What is a patent check and why such check is required?
Before filing a patent request for your invention, you should check if it is really new. If there is already a patent registered for your invention, or a patent exists which is similar enough to your invention, then you may not be able to get a patent, and any further investment in filing a patent request will be wasting your time and your money.
Patent search will also help you to learn more about your invention, see alternate solutions that have been around, and even better differentiate your invention from existing ones.
What types of patent checks exist?
The most common check is a check for prior art, which means all the information that has been made available to the public in any form. This includes essays, Internet, newspapers, existing registered and pending patents, and so on. It is practically impossible to review all the existing information when checking a patent, hence the importance of wisely selecting a big enough group of relevant information, for the search.
The following are issues that patent check may need to deal with:
1. Find all existing relevant prior-art
2. Is the invention already in use somewhere
3. What are the possible uses of the invention
4. Determine is this invention infringes existing patents
5. Differentiate this invention from similar inventions
6. Patentability, or novelty, to decide whether a patent can protect a new invention.
How can you do the check yourself?
The official place to start the search is the Unites States Patent Office (USPTO.gov). Search the website under PatFT: Patents:
Here are some more important links related to the search:
International Patent Applications – http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/
Google Search – http://www.google.com/patents
Each site presents and searches the results differently, and not all of them use the same search tools and input keywords. For each result, you must review the abstract in addition to the title, as the titles may not reveal the necessary information that you are searching for.
How do you know if your search is good enough? Based on my past experience, many times investors find that there is prior art that jeopardizes getting a patent for their invention, only after turning to a professional. An expert in this area will check existing patents thoroughly; will look into possible new invention features and companies that may license such patent, and can save you a lot of time and further expenditures.
Should you hire a patent agent or an attorney? An experienced attorney may be better than agent for searching and filing a request for a patent. This is because the knowledge and experience lawyers have from cases they have represented, allow them to consider these during the search and thus provide even a better result.
A search is one of the most important first steps in turning an invention into a patent. A free search is a good start, however to really make sure you are the first to publish what your invention is about, a patent agent and if possible a lawyer, should be hired.