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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.

The term has been used since 1910, and has become both a common term in advertising and marketing, and a legally significant phrase with respect to both patent law and tort liability.

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.[1] 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".[2]

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",[15] 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".[15] 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:

[16]

See also