Every year, companies in the United States alone pay billions of dollars in royalties and license fees on patents.

Many of these patents should never have been issued, as they do not represent a true invention. By having better information on what is legally termed “prior art” (pre-existing examples of the very same invention), companies can take steps to save potentially enormous amounts of money.

Therefore, Cary-based SAS has released Patent Prior Art Discovery Service, a new offering designed to provide this information. Through its new service, SAS will analyze existing patents and provide information about relevant undisclosed prior art associated with them.

In cases where it can demonstrate that a patent is unenforceable, the service can enable organizations to reduce or end costly patent royalty payments and to protect themselves from potential litigation.

SAS can access a database of relevant art associated with any patent filed at more than 80 different patent-issuing authorities. This represents virtually all (98 percent) of the electronic patent documents available worldwide.

Customers get an initial idea of whether there is relevant prior art that was not examined by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office when it issued the patent. SAS will then conduct an in-depth search and analysis of the prior art only if SAS and the customer determine that this service is likely to benefit the customer.

SAS will offer preliminary findings at no charge during the initial call or shortly thereafter. The cost to engage SAS to provide an in-depth search and analysis of relevant prior art is $50,000. If the prior art found by SAS results in an actual savings to the customer, SAS also charges a portion of the savings, usually 10 percent.

SAS: www.sas.com