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Patentability Search

What is a Patentability Search?

A patentability search is a search where the user looks at both patent and non-patent literature to analyze whether their invention could successfully secure a patent. During each patentability search, the following traits are considered:

  • Subject matter eligibility: the invention needs to fit into one of the preselected categories of process, machine, article of manufacturer or composition of matter.
  • Novelty: a user can look up if there are any prior public disclosures of the invention, or a key part of it. This can be subdivided into three categories, any of which would disqualify patents from eligibility:
    • The invention was made publicly known before the user filed an application for their patent;
    • The invention was published in print media before the user filed a patent application; or
    • A published patent application or an issued patent described the invention before the user applied for patent protection.
  • Usefulness: a patent must have a useful purpose to it, such as requirements set out in technology fields like computers, electronics or pharmaceuticals.
  • Nonobvious: if a patent application is to reach its successful end, it must display an element of inventiveness, or nonobvious use. For example, a user’s invention would contain subject matter that isn’t obvious to a person skilled in that area, like a chemist differentiating between various types of salt with ease in terms of their use and application.

A thorough patentability search can help an innovator uncover patent data at the earliest stage, which helps streamline the process and minimizes the chances of working on an invention that could ultimately be rejected.

Other Terms for Patentability Search:

  • Novelty search
  • Patent search
  • Patentability assessment
  • Freedom to Operate (FTO)

Why is a Patentability Search Important?

A patentability search is important because it can help prevent wasted efforts. Because there are so many stringent details and requirements involved in a patent application, being as thorough and prepared as possible helps maximize how time, money, and effort are used for a particular invention.

As mentioned above, for a patent to be successfully granted, it needs to meet certain criteria. A patentability search can uncover existing intellectual property (IP) that could show the innovator they’ve hit a dead end, as well as the opposite in highlighting potential empty areas the innovator can capitalize on.

Although an innovator can crawl the internet in search of publicly available documents, such as blog posts, journal articles, YouTube videos, etc., using a dedicated platform can help speed up the process dramatically. Instead of looking at various sources and seeing how they match up, one search on a patent platform could uncover the same answers, saving the user much time. They can also use the platform’s embedded tools, like wildcards and stemming, to aid in their search.