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,, 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.

Patent Search – 5 Things You Should Know

Here are some of the most common questions I get from inventors about starting with a patent search.

One of the first things inventors ask me about is the patent search (sometimes called an “invention search” or “prior art search”).  Generally, it is a good idea to conduct a patent search before proceeding too far down the path toward filing for a patent application. However, every scenario is different, and your patent attorney may recommend filing a patent application right away.

This is particularly true given the “new” patent law which became effective in 2013. The new patent law made the U.S. patent system “first-to-file” for most new patent applications that are filed. (Read more about the new patent law and how inventor rights are affected here).

There are generally two categories of patent searches. The first category, which this article refers to, is a patentability search. That is, the search looks for patents (and possibly for other publications) that show the invention already exists.The second category refers to whether a product infringes a patent. That is not the type of patent search this article is referring to. If you are in need of an infringement search, it is best to work with an experienced patent litigation attorney.

A patent search of the first category (“Can I get a patent for my invention?”) may also be referred to as a “prior art search,” “patentability search,” “novelty search,” or “invention search.” These are basically the same thing, although some law firms may have different types of searches offered under various of these or other names. At Trenner Law Firm, for example, we offer a “Basic Patent Search” and an “Enhanced Patent Search.” Our basic search looks at published patent applications and issued patents. Our enhanced search looks at published patent applications, issued patents, and other references (such as technical journals and Internet publications).

There is no right or wrong search. You just want to make sure to understand what you are paying for before you authorize a search for your invention.

2. Does the Patent Office search patents?

Inventors often ask if the Patent Office requires inventors do their own patent search before filing for a patent. The short answer is no. You are not required to do your own search before filing a patent application. In fact, the US Patent Office will do their own search regardless of whether you have already done your own search. That is, the Patent Examiner will do his or her own search for your invention after filing a patent application if you have not done any search – or if you have done a very extensive (or even expensive) patent search.

Does this mean you can skip the patent search? Technically, yes. But it is often a good idea to do a patent search. For example, if the patent search finds the invention already exists, there may be no need to proceed with the patent process. On the other hand, if the search comes back “clean,” then there may be a good reasons to proceed with a patent application.

It is most common, however, that the patent search comes back somewhere in between. For example, there are some references that disclose aspects of the invention – but not all inventive aspects. In that case, the patent lawyer can use the results of the patent search as a guide when drafting claims for a patent application. For example, the patent lawyer can emphasize what appear to be more inventive aspects of the invention.

Of course there is nothing stopping you from conducting your own patent search. The Internet has made information readily available to just about anyone with an Internet connection. Many databases are free, and those that are paid, usually have small subscription fees. The two most common free databases are Google Patents and the US Patent Office Search Database. Indeed, it may be a good idea to start with your own search to gain a better understanding of the state of the art related to your invention.

Just don’t stop there!

Seek the assistance of a patent attorney. Not necessarily to conduct the search. Indeed, most patent attorneys do not conduct their own patent searches. Often a patent law firm will outsource the search to a qualified searcher or search firm.

Instead, the primary purpose of the patent attorney is to interpret the results of the search. For example, a patent attorney may look at the same reference you look at and see a completely different outcome. That’s because the patent attorney knows what the Examiner is looking for at the patent office, and can help guide the inventor, letting the inventor know whether the reference poses a particular risk of the Patent Office denying a patent for the invention.

Talk to a patent lawyer today!

Order your Patent Search including copies of the references and an attorney opinion letter and up to 30 minutes of phone support – Included for $500. Start Here.

4. What if the patent search finds (or doesn’t find) my invention?

Inventors are often weary whether a patent search could mean the end of the road for their invention. For example, if the product already exists, there is no need to continue, right? This need not be the case. Instead, the patent search should be viewed as a stepping stone along the path to success.

What do I mean? If the patent search finds another product that is identical or an obvious variation of the invention, the inventor may decide not to pursue the patent process, saving money that is better spent developing and marketing the product. Many products are huge successes without patent protection.

And the invention may evolve during development. Perhaps some of these aspects are patentable.

5. Is the patent search a guarantee the Patent Office will issue a patent for my invention?

This is a common misconception. No patent search can guarantee a patent will issue for an invention. At least I am unaware of any patent search that can make this guarantee. If someone tells you they guarantee their patent search is bulletproof, reconsider who you are working with.

Why? Just think of the number of databases and references (both online and in libraries across the country – and even around the world). There is no possible way to search and review every single reference that might be related to a particular invention.

Learn More – Watch These Patent Attorney Videos

What is a Patent Search (also called a “Prior Art Search”)

When should you do a Patent Search – a search for your invention?

Can I do my own Patent Search?