When you should do a patent search?

A general questions that usually crops up anybody who is concerned for filing a patent application. When to get a patent search done is largely is largely a matter of choice, but one that depends upon purpose of search. Most frequently inventers will seek a patent search once they have an invention that they think is worth patenting but sometimes inventors wont yet have an invention that is complete, but would like to get sense of patent landscape to determine whether it even makes sense to continue the project and whether there may be some available space that they could target.

These are two different purposes for a patent search, so the first step is to determine why it is that you want a patent search. If you are looking for a patent search that will give you an idea about the patent landscape and whether any available space (called “white space”) exists then you will want to do the patent search early in the process. Of course, you yourself should do a patent search to inform yourself first, although there is real risk associated with only relying on a search performed by those who are not professional searchers. Still, doing your own search is free, except for the investment of time, so it is a logical place to start.

Reasons not everyone chooses a patent search

The reason not everyone chooses to do a patent search first is because the cost of a search is not insignificant, even if it is less than the cost of preparing and filing a patent application. Additionally, a primary benefit of a provisional patent application is to record your invention and get an early filing date, so some will choose to file a provisional patent application as quickly as possible and not wait for the completion of a patent search. Still further, provisional patent applications are never examined by the Patent Office, so for this reason many will choose to simply skip the search at the provisional stage and then if they decide to move forward with a non-provisional patent application do a patent search at that point.



Patent Search

Doing a patent search first before any patent application is filed is always the best course to follow if funds are available. By doing a patent search and obtaining professional guidance from a patent attorney you will be able to determine whether it makes sense to move forward and what, if any, rights could be possibly obtained. In an ideal world everyone would start with a patent search, file a provisional patent application and then within 12 months file a non-provisional patent application. By doing a patent search first you get to see what else can be located and from the earliest stages begin to explain your invention in a way that accentuates both the positive aspects of the invention and the important differences that exist over the prior art.

There is no doubt that doing a patent search prior to filing any patent application is the best approach. Of course, a lack of funding can necessitate different choices. For those who must cut corners the more you learn about the process and the law the more you will be able to help yourself. With this in mind please take a look at Invention to Patent 101, which is an information resource for inventors.