anticipation n: the knowledge or use of an invention in the U.S. or the patenting or describing of the invention in a publication in the U.S. or a foreign country before the discovery by a patent applicant NOTE: Case law has established that every claim or element of a claim has to be disclosed in the prior art in order for a patent application to be barred by anticipation. If an application is amended to consist of claims not disclosed in the prior art, invalidation by anticipation can be avoided.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.