Though not always requested, a combined patent search and patentability opinion is an essential component of the filing process. While some very specialized inventors and businesses may forgo a patent search as they have a well-rounded view of their field, nearly all inventors will obtain various benefits of a patent search. Until recently, most inventors were not keen on patent searches.
What Is a Patent Search?
A patent search is an examination performed by an inventor or their attorney to determine whether the invention is new, useful, and non-obvious. This search may also be done to determine the validity of issued patents and to identify which particular aspects of prior art are patented.
To determine whether an invention is new, one must examine prior art to find similar references. Prior art includes anything public, anywhere in the world, including the U.S., before the date of filing the patent application. This not only includes issued patents, but patent applications, printed material, internet articles, or anything that would teach the essential components of the invention.
Inventors might assume that their creation is not patented simply because it isn’t on the market. This assumption is misleading. There are millions of patent documents, and only a small percentage of patented inventions make it to market. Lack of funds needed to commercialize an invention is one of the most common reasons a product may not make it to market.
Why Hire a Professional to Do a Patent Search?
Thanks to computerized databases of patent information and specialized talents of dedicated patent searchers, a patent search can provide an inventor with a treasure trove of information related to their invention in the initial stages of application decision making. Furthermore, the lower cost of the patent search, relative to the much higher cost of the overall patent process is reason enough to hire a professional to complete the search. Moreover, receiving professional assistance with your patent search prevents the following pitfalls:
1. Save money in the long run
As earlier mentioned, filing a patent can be expensive. It costs more than a professional patent search. Therefore, filing an application without knowing whether your invention meets the requirements of obtaining a patent does not make business sense. There can never be a guarantee that a patent search has successfully located every single reference that a Patent Examiner could use against a patent application, but the patent search is a good insurance policy to prevent an inventor from inadvertently going down an impossible path.
Hiring a professional, especially a flat-fee patent attorney, will save you money in the long run. By searching through multiple proprietary databases and using unique identifiers and synonyms, a professional searcher will be able to locate prior references for your invention, which a typical inventor, and even some attorneys, would never be able to locate. It truly makes a difference that the searcher has particular tools and a refined skillset to utilize while locating relevant prior art. Armed with this information, you will be better positioned to determine whether or not funds should be spent on the patent process.
2. Improve the likelihood a patent is granted
A generic concept of your particular embodiment may already have been patented. However, some differences can be taken advantage of to improve your application and ensure it meets all the required criteria. For example, the prior art may only include descriptions of devices that you have improved upon, and those improvements are differences that will be focused upon in the patent application.
The prior art will also assist a patent professional to familiarize themselves with the terminologies in the field of your invention. With this knowledge, they will be able to identify differences and benefits that you can take advantage of to make your application unique. Prior art may even present new ideas on how to alter your invention to find a solution for an existing need or problem in the market.
A good patent search also results in a stronger issued patent application as it a defense against future litigation or patent infringement. There is always the possibility of being brought into litigation by companies that seek to declare your patent invalid. A good patent search helps to ensure that your resultant patent was written in such a way as to specifically claim around what was previously known.
3. Competitive advantage
Additional advantages of a patent search include the overall knowledge that is gained about your competitors. Through a patent search, you will have a fuller understanding of their intellectual property goals as well as the direction they are moving in and the strategies they are using to control their piece of the marketplace.
Based on this information, you will be able to customize your invention to suit your market. Such information can influence your decision making as far as the venture’s future is concerned. However, the data must be accurate and reliable. A professional patent search is bound to yield a higher quality of information.
The Patent Search Is Crucial
We at Kaufhold & Dix Patent believe that a patent search can be crucial to the application process. Without it, you increase the chances that a large sum of money will be spent with a corresponding increase in the risk of failure. The importance of a quality patent search by a professional cannot be overstated.
The benefits of a professional patent search extend to your business operations by giving you a competitive edge and assisting you in securing sensitive proprietary information. While you could perform the search on your own, hiring a professional guarantees higher quality information and a smoother application process.