Investing in comprehensive patent searches can uncover insights that help your innovations, as well as your organization as a whole, stand out in your industry. As your organization and its inventions move through the innovation cycle, different types of patent searches become necessary. Many of these patent searches contain similar processes, yet their purposes are unique.
5 Types of Patent Searches
1. Patentability Search
Also known as a novelty search, a patentability search helps identify whether or not an idea is novel and nonobvious. The most complete searches include all types of prior art to give an inventor or organization a comprehensive look at the technology landscape. A patentability search should be completed during the ideation phase, as well as prior to disclosure.
2. Freedom to Operate Search
A freedom to operate search, often abbreviated as FTO, determines how similar your product is to existing patents, and therefore how likely you are to infringe on a patent by making and marketing your invention. You may also see this type of search called a patent infringement search or right-to-use search.
Completing an FTO search early in the innovation cycle helps R&D teams design around existing patents. Later on, the results of the search can identify whether you may need to license other patents to bring your product to market.
3. State of the Art Search
Completing a state of the art search (also known as a product clearance or patent landscape search) allows you to examine the literature related to a specific industry, rather than around a certain technology, which may be applicable across industries. Using a state of the art search helps businesses find competitors and existing products within their field. These insights allow researchers, engineers, and leaders to make strategic decisions at any point within the innovation cycle.
4. Invalidity Search
To assess the strength of a specific patent, companies will use an invalidity search. This is also called a validity search. The results of this search determine whether or not the patent holder can claim infringement. They can also be used to decide licensing fees or value. If an invalidity search finds evidence in the form of existing, yet undiscovered, prior art, the patent should not have been granted and is unenforceable. This type of patent search is completed after a patent is granted.
5. Evidence of Use Search
Some organizations actively seek out products that infringe on their patent rights. This type of search is called an evidence of use search. To find these products, an organization or inventor will review similar patents and look for evidence the patent is utilized in a way that infringes on the searcher’s rights. Evidence of use searches happen after a patent is granted and as it matures.
Done correctly, each of these searches can slow down an innovation team. To bring your invention to market faster, turn to a professional search team.