From iA wiki
See also Patent
Law terminology used to describe inventions that invalidate patents by proving that they are not new ideas. Recognition of prior art attempts to curb the issueing of patents where innovation is lacking and therefore undeserved.
Due to poor budget, staffing, or technical know-how by the US and other countries' patent-awarding system is often flawed and failing. The Internet community is often called upon to find Prior Art as a defence against innovation-harming patents on long-standing Internet services and tools.