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Prior art : disclosing a risk for design education
The research sets out to establish whether or not there is evidence of clear criteria being applied to the institutionalized processes that are intended to validate designs as being novel and unique in the commercial arena. If so then design researchers, educators and students should be able to use these as a scaffold to provide evidence of the value of their outcomes. The process of design registration with IP Australia is used as a benchmark. Knowledge and understanding of the term prior art is investigated using a survey and interviews. Prior art is loosely defined as the process of determining/verifying the novelty and distinctiveness of a design artifact. Initial findings are that the term ‘prior art’ is little understood. This has significant implications for design education. Assignment submission forms collected from 39 Australian higher educational institutions all require students to agree that they understand what plagiarism is and warrant that they have not plagiarized the works of others. In the context of assessment of design, this should require understanding the concept of prior art. Yet the research data confirms that few in the field understand the significance of prior art.