The state of the art (sometimes cutting edge or leading edge) refers to the highest level of general development, as of a device, technique, or scientific field achieved at a particular time. However, in some contexts it can also refer to a level of development reached at any particular time as a result of the common methodologies employed at the time.
In advertising, the phrase is often used to convey that a product is made with the best or latest available technology, but it has been noted that "the term 'state-of-the-art' requires little proof on the part of advertisers", as it is considered mere puffery. The use of the term in patent law "does not connote even superiority, let alone the superlative quality the ad writers would have us ascribe to the term".
In the United States, in those states that follow the common law, the state of an industry is "merely evidence of due care rather than a controlling factor",United States, in those states that follow the common law, the state of an industry is "merely evidence of due care rather than a controlling factor", but a number of states have State-of-the-Art statutes that "make a manufacturer's compliance with technological feasibility an absolute defense to a products liability suit". Because the state-of-the-art is constantly advancing, the ability of manufacturers to claim that their products are "state-of-the-art" tracks their potential liability when these products are defective. As an industry journal explained in the 1980s: