Can I Do a Patent Search Myself?
An invention patent search allows you to determine whether your invention warrants legal protection from those who might use or profit from it without your permission. But professional searches can be expensive.
Doing your own patent search may not be impossible, but it can be challenging. To ensure a successful experience, follow these tips for conducting one.
1. Know Your Limitations
As part of your search, there may be certain limitations you should be mindful of when conducting it yourself. Most significantly is that you cannot search everything. To be patentable, inventions must meet certain legal criteria pertaining to novelty and non-obviousness as well as certain other requirements; professional searches can help identify whether your idea meets those standards; but ultimately it’s still up to you to prove them in court.
There are constraints to how patents are classified, too. To make searching patents easier and keep track of them all efficiently, the USPTO uses the U.S. Patent Classification (USPCS). This system organizes patents into classes representing major categories like clothing (class 002) or telecom (class 455) – each category then subdivides further into smaller subclasses that can further subdivide.
Learning the system behind search is beneficial in understanding search terminology and narrowing results using keywords. When conducting international searches, be mindful that other countries use differing classification systems; some do not allow full-text searches at all while others only permit searching patent applications.
Outside of its technical restrictions, conducting a patent search takes considerable time and dedication. Even those new to patent searching could easily spend 5 hours or more conducting preliminary research alone.
As such, it’s essential that when conducting your own patent search you set realistic expectations. There’s no guarantee you will discover anything on your invention, and time spent searching may well have been wasted.
IF YOU’RE SERIOUS ABOUT PATENTING YOUR INVENTION, it is wise to engage a lawyer who specializes in this type of law. An experienced patent attorney will save time and money in the long run by helping avoid mistakes that might lead to your application being denied. UpCounsel offers lawyers from top law schools like Harvard and Yale with 14+ years experience helping people just like yourself obtain patents.
2. Keep Track of Your Results
If you decide to conduct your patent search yourself, it’s essential that you document your results. This is especially relevant if conducting a state-of-the-art search that looks at technological progress within an area; performing such an examination can yield massive amounts of data which is easy for anyone but an expert searcher to sort through and miss relevant patents altogether.
One way of keeping track of your search results is using the IPC class code assigned by the USPTO for each patent. This code can be invaluable to inventors; for example, if your invention involves titanium golf clubs it would be beneficial to know their IPC class code is 3G – simply head to USPTO’s patent search page and search your technology; once you find relevant patents you should try identifying their IPC classes by reading descriptions before conducting subclass searches to further narrow down results.
Keep track of your results while writing down patent numbers and US classifications that seem most pertinent, this way enabling you to narrow your searches in future by targeting specific classifications.
As part of your patent search, keep in mind that various countries have distinct classification systems and patent offices that must be taken into account if your searches occur outside the US.
As part of conducting your own patent search, it’s advisable not to share too many details online about your invention. Doing so exposes its details to other inventors and marketing companies who might attempt to steal its concept; for this reason it’s imperative that only reliable resources be used when performing such an endeavour on your own. By adhering to these tips you’ll avoid both time and money while doing a DIY patent search yourself.
3. Don’t Assume Your Findings Are Final
Patents provide legal protection to protect your inventions from being made, used or sold by others. Conducting a comprehensive patent search to make sure that your idea doesn’t already exist or meets eligibility for protection is essential to achieving patent success.
An effective patent search takes time and knowledge. If you are unfamiliar with patent searching strategies and the patent classification system, it may be prudent to hire a professional.
Even when conducting a complete patent search yourself, there remains the possibility that some relevant prior art could slip past. This is especially likely when using only the USPTO’s free online search tool – as this does not provide comprehensive prior art searches and could leave you open to potential infringement lawsuits.
Most inventors conducting their own searches typically conduct only basic text-based searches using search engines like Google or the USPTO’s free online tool, yielding numerous irrelevant references to both subject matter and invention. To conduct meaningful searches you must understand how inventors and patent attorneys characterize inventions, features, scientific principles or concepts within specific patent classifications – only then can accurate searches within them take place.
When reviewing your patent application with the USPTO, only limited research will be done to evaluate it – leaving you open to lawsuits should an inventor notice your patent doesn’t cover their invention. In order to avoid these lawsuits, it may be prudent to spend extra money conducting a comprehensive patent search upfront.
One reason some inventors forego conducting an intensive patent search may be their commitment to commercialize their new invention or business idea immediately. In these instances, it would likely be wiser for them to invest their funds in filing a patent application instead, since its results will have more of an effectful result on their business than searching.
4. Hire a Lawyer
Experienced patent search attorneys are the ideal partners to assist with conducting patent searches. They will review your results to make sure they are comprehensive before suggesting further searches or filing an application for you.
Patent attorneys understand the entire patent application process inside and out and can save both time and money by helping you avoid common mistakes. Furthermore, they have access to professional searchers who conduct more extensive searches than anyone can perform themselves; additionally they can search international publications using different classification systems.
When hiring a patent attorney, it is vital that they can keep your confidential information private and sign a non-disclosure agreement so you can have peace of mind that no other parties will know about your invention.
An experienced patent attorney will charge a fee to conduct a comprehensive search and prepare all the paperwork needed for filing an application for patent protection. They can also give an approximate estimate of costs associated with getting one in order for you to plan effectively.
Hiring an experienced patent attorney to perform a full search and help secure your patent is well worth the investment, giving you peace of mind knowing your invention is protected while serving as a tool for growth and success.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides an excellent search system with a helpful Help section that teaches inventors how to utilize it, but sifting through all of the available patent and non-patent literature can still be challenging for novice searchers without experience or knowledge of how best to evaluate search results. Because of this, it is usually recommended that patent searches and subsequent legal proceedings are handled by professional lawyers; doing so could save both time and money over time by helping find valid patents that protect inventors’ interests.