Doctrine of Inherency Law and Legal Definition

Under Patents law, a claim is anticipated if a single prior art reference, either expressly or inherently, discloses every feature of a claimed invention. Doctrine of inherency states that anticipation can be inferred despite a missing element in a prior art reference if the missing element is either necessarily present in or a natural result of the product or process and a person of ordinary skill in the art would know it. Inherency is predicated on the idea that anticipation should not be avoided merely because a claimed feature is undisclosed or unrecognized in the prior art reference.

This doctrine precludes patenting an existing invention by merely claiming an inherent element. At the same time, it allows the later patentability of a substance that was inadvertently created but not recognized or appreciated.

A person to relying on the doctrine of inherency, must provide a basis in fact and/or technical reasoning supporting a determination that an allegedly inherent characteristic necessarily would be present if the teachings of the prior art were followed, even if the inherent feature would not have been recognized.