A patent is an intellectual property right that protects an inventor’s ownership and commercialization of their inventions. While patents are ideal for protection, they are not issued automatically— you must first meet the Patent Office’s strict standards. Two of the most important standards set by the Patent Office are novelty (whether your invention is new and different from previous technology) and non-obviousness (whether your invention’s improvements and differences over previous technology are sophisticated). The Patent Office commonly sends rejections based on the failure to be novel and non-obvious, so it is vital to determine where your invention stands before beginning the patenting process.
Patent searches help determine whether an invention is novel and non-obvious. Typically, the patent search is conducted by a patent professional to yield comprehensive results. These results will indicate an application’s probability of success by aggregating various factors, such as the existence of prior patents that may interfere with your application and whether the existing technology suggests your invention is sophisticated enough to be non-obvious.
Patent searches may also provide other advantages to your patent application. For example, the results will help prepare a better application, as they help identify the features of the invention that are most patentable. This way, a better-written patent can highlight these features. If the search finds potential patents that may interfere with your application, the patent attorney can write around these issues to avoid rejection.
There are also several economic and commercial reasons for conducting a patent search. As the cost of a patent search is less than the cost of an application, the applicant will save time and money if they decide not to apply when results are not favorable. Additionally, the commercial potential of an invention often depends on whether it can be issued a patent. In situations where substantial investment is on the line, it is even more crucial to identify and protect the aspects of the invention that will generate commercial success to prevent knockoffs from cutting into your profits.
However, there are also situations where patent searches may not be necessary. There may be no reason to conduct a patent search if the inventor is already an expert in their field and aware of their competitors and the prior related technology. If such an inventor knows undoubtedly that their invention is novel and non-obvious, then the patent search will likely not uncover anything unknown to them. In situations such as these, where nothing of value can be gained, conducting a patent search is pointless.
A patent search can be a powerful tool when administered by an experienced patent professional. Although some inventors may choose to conduct the patent search themselves, this is generally not recommended. Searching through the Patent Office’s files is not an intuitive process, as patents use highly specialized language. Improperly administered patent searches are likely to be inaccurate and can cost you more time and money down the road. If you would like a comprehensive patent search, our expert patent attorneys at Alcoba Law Group are happy to be of service. By scheduling a free consultation, either by phone or in-person, we will better assist your needs and help you accomplish your goals while protecting your rights as an inventor.
Written by: David Sacasa Ⓒ 2021 Alcoba Law Group P.A.
Picture Credits: Miri Paez Bolet.
Reviewed by: Ruben Alcoba