Patent Searching

A patentability search helps an inventor determine whether the scope of available patent protection may be a worthwhile business investment. The “prior art” is searched for earlier inventions. The prior art is analyzed and compared to the invention to determine how the invention might be novel (new). The novel elements of the invention will give guidance as to the potential scope of patent protection. If the novel elements represent the commercially important portion of the invention, then a patent application should be filed as soon as possible. A patentability search may not always be necessary or advisable, especially for manufacturers, product developers, and anyone who actively participates in an industry crowded with patent art.

We conduct searches using:

  1. Keywords
  2. Classification
  3. Tree searching

Keyword searches are conducted using the full text of US, European Union, PCT, Great Britain, French and German patent records, as well as the front page of Japanese patent records. Class searches are conducted by classifying the invention and manually searching the class. Searches may be supplemented by brief Google Internet search, at the discretion of the searcher. The searcher selects the prior art references that the searcher finds the most pertinent to patentability.

We will consider any prior art that you may provide us. For example, we will consider technical literature, Internet websites, samples of competing products, catalogs, manuals, newspaper articles, or any other information pertinent to the invention. The best time to provide such information is prior to the search; this can improve the quality of your search results, and thereby, the legal opinion. Our searches typically do not include searches of technical literature; however, if you desire such a search, we can accommodate your request.

Please note patentability searches are imperfect by nature. The patent classification system used by the United States Patent Office and the International Class system may not always classify a patent that is pertinent to your invention within the classes searched. There are more than seven million issued United States patents, which may be classified in one or more of 100,000 classes. More than one thousand examiners may be involved in classifying and cross-referencing to other classes. These examiners opinions may vary as to proper classification. In addition, patents may not contain the keywords that the searcher deems relevant to the invention. Furthermore, while we may search published patent art, patent applications remain secret until published or issued, which typically occurs 18 months after filing. Therefore, while we exercise care to be reasonably certain that we have located the most relevant patent art, there is always the possibility that relevant disclosures may not have been found during the search.

After receiving the search report, the inventor should review the prior art carefully. Often, the inventor can find additional differences between the invention and the prior art that may be commercially important.