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This question is basically: can a new use for a known substance be patented? The answer depends on whether the claim to the new use is novel and non-obvious (as with all patent claims). In the example case, I can see three types of claims which might be used. A giraffe food product comprising the known dog food. This is not novel, since the known dog food ...


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The overall field is called patent analytics. Academics do quite a bit of it. One site that has some useful tools is see-the-forest. I am including a chart I just made there. Unfortunately to get really useful data you need to be a paid user.


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