In today’s competitive landscape, it is crucial to act fast and protect your invention with a patent. But filing a patent application can be expensive. And if you file a patent application for an invention that already exists – you will quickly learn that that you have wasted your time time and money that could have been better spent taking a different product to market. Fortunately, a patent search can tell you in advance whether you should pursue a patent for your invention.
Let’s look at some ways a professional patent search saves time and money.
Need for a professional patent search . . .
Most inventors believe that their patent does not already exist, simply because they have never seen it. Sometimes, an inventor will ask their close friends or family for confirmation. If no one they ask has seen the product, then the inventor (often incorrectly) assumes that their invention does not already exist.
Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car – all of a sudden you see that car everywhere you go? No, everyone did not run out and purchase the same car you just bought. What you are experiencing is familiarity. Companies rely on familiarity (or brand recognition) to sell products to you every day. In other words, before you purchased your car, you may not have been familiar with that type of car and so you did not think about that car. Because it was not forefront in your thoughts, you did not “see” that car (even though it was probably all around you). But after purchasing your new car, it is now front and center in your thought (it is familiar). So everywhere you look, now you notice your type of car.
The same thing happens with inventions. When you ask your friends or family if they have seen anything like it – their answer will almost always be “no.” But that’s because they have not been looking for it. So just because your and your friends and family have never seen anything like your invention, that is not confirmation that it does not already exist.
So how do you avoid filing a patent application for an invention that already exists? Do a patent search.
What are your options when it comes to a patent search?
1) Free Internet Search.
Everything can be found using Google, right? While it is generally a good idea to do a general internet search (Google or other favorite search engine, Amazon.com, etc.), this is far from conclusive. At best, you find that your invention already exists. At worst, you don’t see your invention and mistakenly believe that it does not already exist. Thinking of doing your own patent search? Watch this patent attorney video first to find out if that is a good idea.
2) Check Free Online Patent Databases.
There are several free online patent databases. Google Patents is perhaps the easiest. But this database is not updated regularly. Other free databases include the US Patent office patent databases (be sure to search both published applications and issued patents). You can also use the European Patent Office (ESPACENET patent database) to search pending and issued patents in other countries. Unfortunately, these databases are difficult to navigate and it is easy for the inexperienced inventor conducting his or her own patent search to miss important patent documents.
3) Get a professional patent search through a patent attorney.
A patent attorney typically works with a professional search firm. The search firm conducts the patent search and provides the relevant references to the patent attorney. The patent attorney evaluates the references based on an understanding of both the invention and the patent law. A good patent search also includes an opinion letter that explains why your invention can be patented, or whether your invention is not a good candidate for filing a patent application.
What to expect from a professional patent search.
If this is your first time inventing something, here is a brief overview of what you should expect from a professional patent search:
· A thorough search of a trusted patent database.
· Professional analysis by an attorney who understands the patent laws and has worked with Examiners at the US Patent Office to get many patents issued for other clients.
· A full written opinion discussing the merits of your invention, including all differentiators and what makes your product unique.
· Copies of all pertinent references found during the search so that you can confirm the attorney’s recommendation.
· A fair price.
Benefits of a professional patent search . . .
· The patent search may reveal other products that you were not already aware of.
· A professional search firm will be able to zero in on features of your invention that might already be described in other patents – even if those patents are for different types of inventions.
· A patent attorney can determine whether there are any features of your invention that might be patentable.
· Determine whether you are wasting your efforts trying to patent something that already exists.
· Find out if your invention is so close to something that already exists that the Examiner would likely reject your patent application.
The patent process is a big investment of your time and money. Make sure you’re not wasting your time or money trying to patent an invention that already exists.
If you would like to learn more about having a patent attorney conduct a professional patent search for your invention, give us a call at (720) 221-3708, or Email Us. Or start today by visiting our online patent law firm.