I'm trying to determine whether there is evidence that definitively confirms that a YouTube video can be submitted as prior art.

If there is an example of one being used as the grounds for rejecting an application, that would obviously work, as would a statement or copy from the USPTO, but I wasn't able to find anything on their site that would specifically apply.

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    Just to clarify, you're referring to the content of a specific YouTube video as prior art, and not YouTube videos in the abstract?
    – g33kz0r
    Sep 5, 2012 at 19:02
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    @g33kz0r - correct. Sep 5, 2012 at 23:01
  • Here is a search that returns a bunch of patents referencing YouTube videos : search). The search was done with the query "OREF/YouTube" on the advanced search page.
    – David
    Aug 7, 2016 at 20:12
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    Here is a great article on exactly this topic, including how to do it: citiusminds.com/blog/can-youtube-videos-be-used-as-prior-arts
    – jdpatent
    May 6, 2017 at 16:27

8 Answers 8


Yes, you can submit a YouTube Video as prior art as long as the YouTube video is publicly available. YouTube videos usually have the publication date under the video, such as "Uploaded by X on Oct 17, 2011". If you provide a hard copy of the video itself, it be hard to prove that the video was public or its publication date, especially if the public version of the video gets removed at a later time. I would recommend making a "Print Screen" image of each second in the video that is considered prior art. Make sure that the "Print Screen" image shows the URL of the video as well as its publication date on YouTube. Then convert each "Print Screen" image into a PDF Document. Combine all the PDF pages into a single document and submit this to the USPTO.

I'm a patent searcher and I have done this before.

I hope this helps! :)

  • 5
    I agree that removal of videos may be an issue.
    – VenomFangs
    Sep 20, 2012 at 17:13
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    you need to mention last accessed on the reference material
    – Pushpak
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:51
  • @Patentico, Are the dates used by Youtube acceptable? How do they verify that the dates are accurate (e.g. date errors due to bug or rogue employee and whatnot)?
    – Pacerier
    Oct 10, 2015 at 22:32
  • Might be worth adding a citation given the question asks for evidence? uspto.gov/sites/default/files/aia_implementation/…
    – jdpatent
    May 6, 2017 at 16:27
  • @Pacerier i had a private video in youtube uploaded in 2016 and i make it public in 2017 , since i made the video public the date was automatically updated to 2017. what happen in this case? meanwhile somebody did the same thing and published the video in 2017. can this be used as a prior art since the original video was uploaded in 2016 not in 2017 ? can i sue him?
    – mwweb
    Sep 28, 2018 at 23:22

I am not aware of a definitive answer to your question either in the statutes or in case law, but I can set out likely parameters for making such a determination. The following excerpt from 35 USC section 102 most directly addresses the issues relevant to your question:

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless— (a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or (b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States, or ...

There are other limiting factors that are pertinent to your question. The key question, already addressed earlier, is whether the YouTube video can be proven to be prior to the date of the claimed invention. I don't know enough about the innards of the YouTube system to know whether definitive proof is available, though I suspect it is - provided that the Google folks will cooperate in demonstrating the actual publication date of the video.

There is plenty of room for argument from the other side as to whether posting on YouTube is "publication" for purposes of the statute. Also, given the nature of the medium, it may be difficult to establish that the video is "truthy." Remember the videos showing fantastic basketball shots and people launched through hoops? It is also possible to misinterpret what a video actually represents, for example whether it shows an actual working process or a mockup such as stop motion animation.

It comes down to proof - convincing a court as to the factual nature of the video and the date of its publication.

  • Proof may be available even if Google won't "cooperate". That's what the federal subpoena power is for.
    – g33kz0r
    Sep 6, 2012 at 14:06
  • If an inventor created a film teaching exactly how her invention worked, wouldn't that be a publication?
    – bib
    Sep 6, 2012 at 17:29
  • Existence is not publication. How does the inventor prove the date on which the film was created? One way would be to publish by registering the film for copyright. The further problem with any video or photographic evidence is the ability manufacture such materials as mentioned in the answer above.
    – user96
    Sep 6, 2012 at 21:04
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    The video doesn't have to be copyrighted to be considered a publication. Also, finding out the date when the video was created is irrelevant. What matters is the date when the video was made publicly available. As long as the video has a publication date, it is considered prior art. All YouTube videos show the date when they were uploaded. This date is the publication date.
    – Patentico
    Sep 20, 2012 at 17:28

Well, all evidences might be taken into consideration. To be a prior art, evidence must be public and need to have a date and comprise one or more subject matter, which is claimed in new invention. But, like other evidences in the internet, video can be deleted from youtube and there will be a problem to prove that 1 year ago youtube (or any other public web-site) contained a specific video. If you want to make a reference in a patent application - it's better to provide a "hard-copy" of video to the USPTO on the CD or DVD.

  • 4
    An interesting sub-question is whether you can use a YouTube downloader as part of putting it on DVD. Normally, that's a TOS and possibly copyright violation. I wonder if the courts will enforce this if it was a public video, and it's only being used to submit to USPTO as prior art. I guess this is partly a copyright (fair use) and contract question. Sep 5, 2012 at 19:21

Under the law, prior art must fit within one of the categories defined in 35 U.S.C. 102. The most likely categories for a youtube video are (1) a "printed publication" or (2) evidence of the invention being "known ... by others in this country."

There is at least one case holding that a video is NOT a printed publication. Diomed, Inc. v. AngioDynamics, Inc., 450 F. Supp. 2d 130 (D. Mass. 2006). In that case, the court ruled that "The definition of 'printed' cannot be stretched to include a presentation which does not include a paper component or, at minimum, a substitute for paper such as the static presentation of slides." To be "known by others," you must be able to show that the video was sufficiently available to the public. This could be shown by showing that it is searchable on the key search terms or that it was actually accessed by a number of people.


I have seen a YouTube video cited as prior art in an Office action, and a claim rejection was based in part on the YouTube video. So yes, YouTube videos can be prior art. In the Office action, the Examiner provided a screenshot of the video as well as its URL.

  • 1
    Can you provide a link to the video or patent application? Sep 22, 2012 at 13:47
  • Also, when you say "a claim rejection was based in part on the YouTube video"... Is a YouTube video by itself (without other evidences) acknowledged as prior art?
    – Pacerier
    Oct 10, 2015 at 22:37

Yes, it can. I did a quick search and found over 100 patents with a youtube.com prior art citation. The earliest citations I found are in US 7783710, US 7844507, and US 7934725.


Yes, you can submit Videos (Whether from Youtube or other platforms), voice, and even images as prior art for an invention.

As @patentico mentioned that providing the hard copy of a video is a bad idea as you may face difficulties in providing publication date of that video. You may need to collect evidence of original publication date of the same.

Also, a video will be considered prior art even if the source of that video and patent are same (if the time frame between the publication date of video and filing date of the patent is more than a considerable time provided by local IP laws).

As your request, I have found one infamous patent case of Apple where their patent was invalidated by using a video as Prior art. The interesting fact about that case is, the video considered as prior art was Apple's own keynote video on iPhone release presented by Steve Jobs.

Iphone's Rubber-banding effect patent was invalidated in Germany after Google submitted Steve Jobs' presented keynote video as prior art. The court even rejected various amended claims by Apple. Only 3 out of 20 claims were granted.

While searching for cases, I found an article with 4 such patent disputes where visual content was considered as prior art (including the above case I mentioned).

Not just a YouTube video but, a comic, picture, or even Movie can be used a prior art as long as you're able to provide strong relation with the invention and publication date of the same.

Here are the other 3 patent cases including one where a movie from 1968 was considered as prior art for Apple's iPad design.

4 cases where examiner found ridiculously awesome prior art.


USPTO published a document related to America Invent Act (AIA) implementation where it categorized a YouTube video to “qualify as a Printed Publication under AIA and pre-AIA laws.” (Page 15 of ‘First Inventor to File (FITF) Comprehensive Training: Prior Art Under the AIA‘)

AIA adds a new provision to 35 USC 102(a)(1) in the form of “Otherwise available to the public” which had no counterpart in pre-AIA law. USPTO explains further that “an oral presentation at a scientific meeting, a demonstration at a trade show, a lecture or speech, a statement made on a radio talk show and a YouTube video, Web site, or other on-line material (this type of disclosure may also qualify as a printed publication under AIA and pre-AIA law)”

Citius Minds has collated an article which explains in what form should a YouTube video be submitted to be considered by the examiner or jury, provide necessary evidence and make the most sense. - http://www.citiusminds.com/blog/can-youtube-videos-be-used-as-prior-arts/

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