Patent Searches

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What is a Patent Search?

There are different types of patent searches and they are done to meet different business goals.

1) Novelty (patentability); 2) Freedom to Operate (FTO); 3) Non-infringement; and 4) Validity. 

Novelty searches tend to be the most common search requested. A novelty search may be done before or after a product is fully developed. The novelty search asks if the product is novel, meaning first to be developed. Some products are improvements on existing products. In this case we ask, are the improvements upon this product novel?

The USPTO makes a deal with inventors and businesses that want to file for a patent. If you are providing something new to the worldwide public, then we will allow you to prohibit others from making and selling your product in the U.S. for 20 years from your filing date, this is done in the form of a patent. The novelty search is done to identify if the public is already in possession of the invention. If so, then the USPTO rejects the invention and will not issue a patent.

What is Involved In the Patent Search Process?

At LPS, we search both domestic and international patent office databases. It is also important to search non-patent literature (NPL) including relevant websites, and scholarly articles. Classifications are established and search terms are tracked. We create a report presenting the closest prior art and provide a copy of each reference.  

3 Key Points on Why Patent Searches are Important

-patent searches are important because filing patents are very expensive. You do not want to spend between 5-10k filing and prosecuting a patent if there is little chance of issuing a valuable patent.

– You do not want someone coming after you for infringement for making and selling a product they have already protected. 

– even, during a search if close prior art is found, sometimes we can redesign the product around what we find. 

Benefits of a Good Patent Search vs. a Bad One

One good example of a bad patent search is an organization that only offers a U.S. patent search, meaning that only the USPTO databases and U.S. non-patent literature are searched. The major inventor organizations advertising on national TV are exactly these types of organizations, beware! An examiner can use any public information published in the world to bar your patent. This is why it is such a disservice to inventors to only offer domestic search services, as they are essentially worthless information. 

Who provides patent search services?

It is important to select a valid service provider that understands the role examiners play in the process of examining patent applications. Having a registered patent agent or attorney involved in the search is crucial. Only a practicing professional understands what types of prior art can be asserted and what ways prior art references may be combined to bar your patent application. 

A valid search service where registered practitioners participate in the process is a must! All geographic areas must be included. Also, beware of outfits that want to sell you a “package” with marketing, Website build offers, licensing or manufacturing services as these are most always a scam. 

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