The search report plus opinion will provide you with a detailed report of the US patents and pending US patent application we have found that are relevant to your invention. The patent search reports are broken down into categories, namely an A-List, a B-List and sometimes a C-List. The A-List typically contains the primary references, and the B-List typically contains references that show at least one feature from your invention and pertain to the same field of invention as your invention, and the C-List shows references typically outside your field of invention, but perhaps relevant to some extent. Thus, the patent search report will then identify the patents or applications that we feel are most worthy of your attention.

What is an Opinion?

An opinion will identify those references that are the closest and deserve the most attention and offers a thumbs up or thumbs down assessment of the likelihood of obtaining patent protection based on the invention presented. In the event that it does not look promising some feedback is given regarding how the inventor may wish to proceed and what to focus on moving forward, should the inventor want to move forward. An opinion letter is typically about 1 page in length.

What is a Detailed Written Patentability Assessment?

A Detailed Patentability Assessment differs from an opinion, which is little more than a conclusion, in that you will receive a letter describing the primary references, the differences between the most relevant patents and patent applications found and your invention. This detailed assessment will discuss what, if any, rejections can be envisioned and the arguments or drafting strategies that could be employed to minimize or deal with such rejections in advance, assuming of course we do believe your invention is patentable. The assessment will also describe what collection of features are most unique and likely to lead to a patent being awarded, and articulate which aspects of your invention seem to be missing in the prior art. If we envision difficulty we also offer suggestions and recommendations for continuing to pursue the invention should that be the path the inventor wishes to follow. We also offer suggestions aimed at helping the inventor to better articulate the invention so as to maximize the likelihood of obtaining a patent. In essence, this detailed analysis goes well beyond the basic opinion regarding whether a patent can likely be obtained and will provide you with insight into what can realistically be obtained in all likelihood, spelling out our analysis. This type of analysis can be quite helpful for inventors, and can be shown to prospective business partners or even attached to a business plan.

About Software & Computer Methods

Virtually all software and computer method innovations can be patented. The question is how many layers of specificity must be placed into the broad definition of the innovation in order to make the invention unique. So we typically approach these searching with the belief that there is something there that can be protected and it is our job to articulate what we think can reasonably be protected and work with the inventor to determine if what we can likely get is broad enough to be worthwhile to pursue.

Why do I need a search if my invention is not on the market?

Patent searching is an art though, and if you are not familiar with advanced search strategies it is not surprising you cannot find anything, but rest assured there are always patents to find that are at least similar. While doing your own patent search is a wise first step, at some point before spending thousands of dollars to obtain a patent you should obtain a professional patent search and patentability opinion.

Who can do a patent search?

Anyone can do a patent search using the online Patent Office database, but this database only contains patents issued since 1976, so such a search is not complete. Google has a patent search engine, but the results provided are organized by a Google algorithm that may or may not cause the most relevant patents to be forced to the top of your search. Indeed, many times people who come to us for a patent application will say that they have already conducted a patent search themselves and have found nothing, and/or they will say that they have never seen anything like it in the industry. Individual efforts by inventors to search the online Patent Office database are helpful, and such study should be undertaken by every inventor. Nevertheless, the best and most reliable patent search will be one that is done by a professional who is intimately familiar with both advanced searching techniques and the Patent Classification System. If you are not familiar with advanced search techniques and the Patent Classification System you are almost certainly going to miss what you are looking for in your own search.

Does a patent search come with a guarantee?

Unfortunately, no guarantees can be provided. With all patent searches, regardless of who does the search and regardless of whether it is conducted on site at the Patent Office, not all relevant prior art can be guaranteed to be found. Specifically, pending US applications are not published until 18 months after they are filed, so even with an exhaustive patent search there is no way to be sure that everything pending at the Patent Office has been discovered. Additionally, when you do apply for a patent it is extremely likely that the patent examiner will rely on at least some patents that you did not know about. Sometimes this is due to the fact that an examiner rejection could not be anticipated, sometimes it is due to the fact that the description of your invention is unintentionally overbroad, and sometimes it is because an examiner will weave together multiple patents to make a rejection.

What about invention promotion companies?

We frequently hear from individuals who paid $800 or more for what an invention promotion company claimed was a patent search. All frequently we also hear that there existed prior art that should have been found, sometimes an exact or nearly exact replica of what was believed to be invented. Part of the invention scam is to tell you what you want to hear. They tell you that they are excited to work with you and recommend a patent search that will cost around $800. Then they come back with great news, they cannot find any patents that relate to your invention. This should be a red flag. It is virtually impossible to look and not find a single patent that is relevant. This is not to say that a patent search is likely to find your invention, but there are well over 8,600,000 issued US patents now and, therefore, it would be quite rare for an invention to address a problem never before considered by anyone.