Conducting a patent search, whether you search yourself or enlist the help of a professional, helps identify prior art that could potentially keep your technology from being patented. The search should uncover competitive intelligence and insights into the technology landscape. Done correctly, patent research identifies relevant prior art and allows you to identify whether or not your invention is novel. With this background knowledge, you can more confidently invest resources into the development and patenting of your new technology.
Basing your investment on incomplete or inferior research can be a costly mistake. To move into development and the patenting process with confidence in the novelty of your invention, you need to ensure your patent search is as thorough as possible. If your patent search has any of these traits, it is likely incomplete:
- Your searcher doesn’t thoroughly understand your invention. In order to find relevant prior art, a searcher has to get to know the ins and outs of your technology. Without a deep understanding of your invention and its uses, there’s no way to know whether or not a piece of prior art is relevant.
- Only domestic databases are included in your search. Failing to include international databases in a patent search likely means important prior art was left uncovered. This is because more than 80% of patent applications are filed outside the US.
- Nothing like your proposed technology is uncovered. Just because a technology isn’t on the market does not mean it isn’t patented. There are millions of patents in the US alone, so it’s highly unlikely that no aspect of your invention has been patented before now.
- The results are an uneven mix of prior art and analysis. An experienced patent searcher will include both relevant prior art and insights drawn from the patent literature. If the documentation you receive from your searcher offers more analysis than seems reasonable for the search results, question whether the search was exhaustive.