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Patent Search

What is a Patent Search?

A patent search is looking through a database of existing intellectual property (IP) at various stages, from initial application and issue to archived or abandoned projects. It’s important to note that for the first 18 months after a patent application, the data will not be visible in a search so as to protect the owner during that period.

When conducting a patents search, remember that results only indicate the likelihood of successfully obtaining a patent and is not a guarantee. Performing a targeted and thorough search helps increases the chances of success, so it’s key to both understand how to do one and to use the best platform available. When both of those factors are considered, there’s a high chance of discovering if prior art is unique or novel when compared to existing IP.

For example, conducting a US patent search might uncover existing technologies, but show an absence of the innovation in other parts of the world. Because there is no single global patent database, a comprehensive patent search can help innovators form strategies for moving forward.

Other Names for Patent Search:

  • Novelty search
  • Patentability search
  • Freedom to operate (FTO) search
  • State of the art search (SOA)
  • Invalidity search
  • Evidence of use search

Why is a Patent Search for IP Important?

A patent search is important for IP because it helps define the innovation process. The initial step in any project is to first identify if the IP already exists to eliminate working on dead ends.

However, a patent search can involve much more complexity than that. It can also indicate potential areas of overlap – perhaps useful for partnering with others in various aspects – as well as determine trends, areas and rates of innovation, and information about existing patents to help streamline work on a new patent.

There are many options available for patent searches, whether using the Google patent search engine, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) databases, a global patent search directory, or a customized proprietary platform. A dedicated platform is often preferred by IP professionals, as it allows for using different kinds of search tools while being guided by expert assistance.

Whichever method is preferred, a patent search is vital to uncovering existing data to help formulate an efficient and time-saving strategy to maximize innovation.