What is a patent search?
One of the major factors of “patentability” (or determining if an invention is eligible to receive a patent) is to consider what similar inventions are already patented. Therefore it’s important that you conduct a certain degree of due diligence on the patentability of your invention prior to filing for an actual patent. To that end, a patent search is a useful step in the process.
A patent search is the process of searching for all previously issued patents on the US Patent and Trademark Office’s website. It may also include a search of foreign patents and printed publications.
A patent search does not guarantee that your invention is or is not patentable. It is primarily focused on determining what similar or like invention(s) are already patented (i.e., prior art).
Although, you can conduct a preliminary search on your own using Google or the USPTO, you may want to consider utilizing a patent attorney or patent search firm to complete a more thorough or comprehensive search.
Should I perform a patent search?
Along with doing some amount of basic market research, you may want to consider a patent search prior to moving forward with filing a provisional or non-provisional patent application.
Although, a patent search is not a requirement to file a patent application, it may save you time and money in the long run. For example, you can prevent spending a great deal of time and resources on the development of an invention only to find out later that it had already been invented and patented.
Patent searching is not an exact science, so you’ll never receive a 100% guarantee that the search found every applicable patent. However, it is a beneficial exercise and may even provide a good way to become familiar with similar/competing patents that might affect the ultimate success of your invention.
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