A patent search provides information on the existence and current status of similar inventions. It is advisable to start carrying out searches at the product development stage already.
The patent search allows the inventor to find out whether the invention he has created already exists or not.
This is the starting point for deciding on the form and wording of the patent or utility model application to be filed in order to obtain protection.
The purpose of the patent search is:
- to obtain an overview of the state of the art
- to obtain an overview of the background of competitors and cooperation partners
- to avoid infringing the rights of patent holders (freedom to operate)
- to assess the novelty and inventive step of your invention
How can I find out if my invention is new or if a similar invention is already protected?
For this a search has to be carried out to compare the invention with similar solutions that already exist. Descriptions of patents and useful models can be searched and found in patent databases, such as the free Espacenet database, which brings together patent descriptions from more than 90 countries.
When and why to search for patents?
Prior to drafting a patent application, a prior art search should be carried out to identify close analogues to the invention. If, during the examination of an application already filed, the patent office finds an analogue which is even closer to the invention than the one on which the patent applicant based his application, the claim and part of the specification will usually have to be rewritten. This in turn may change the scope of legal protection. In the worst case, it may turn out that a patent cannot be obtained.
What are the main types of search?
- A search of the state of the art is suitable for searching in the particular field of technology when the invention is still at the idea stage.
- A freedom to operate search is necessary before the product is commercially exploited or the idea is further developed. If an entrepreneur intends to introduce a product or method commercially, or to manufacture or import a product, the entrepreneur should first determine whether or not he is infringing anyone’s existing patent or utility model.
- The purpose of the novelty and inventive step search is to identify potential obstacles to patenting.