Patent searches are integral to the business plans of individual inventors, and of companies whose success hinges on the fact that their products are completely unique.
What is a patent and why should you conduct a patent search?
Simply put, a patent is a legal document that gives you the sole right to profit from whatever original invention you hold a patent for. If you were to invent, say, a brand new machine for running patent searches, you should file a patent on that to make sure no one rips off your idea.
A patent search is the act of reading through large patent databases to look for certain things.
Although in execution all patent searches look quite similar, there are in fact several different reasons to carry them out depending on what you are trying to achieve. The team here at Global Voices can help you with patent searches of every kind, so read on to determine why you would be doing a patent search, and get in touch to proceed further.
Why you should do a patent search for your own invention
The most common type of patent search is one to gauge the patentability of a new invention. If you have created what you think is an ingenious product and you want to make sure no one can copy it once it goes to market, you need to get a patent. And to get a patent, your invention needs to be legally patentable.
To do this, you have to check for two things during a patent search:
If someone else has already patented an invention with an uncanny resemblance to yours, you may have problems during the patenting process, or legal problems further down the line should your similar patent still be accepted.
A search of patent databases for anything similar to your own invention should soon determine whether anybody has already come up with your big idea before you proceed to get a patent of your own.
Similar to looking for infringement on any existing ideas, searching for patentability involves determining whether a new invention is “non-obvious” enough to qualify for patentability.
Though patent law varies country by country, most patent offices require a new invention to be original. In the US, this is defined as “non-obvious”. In Europe, this is called an “inventive step”. Looking at other patents in a similar area to yours will clue you in on what is considered “inventive” and what is simply normal within your inventions subject area.
Patent searches are not free, and you can file a patent without doing one, but if you do not find out whether or not your invention is truly patentable before you do so, you may end up wasting money on a costly patent application that was destined to be rejected.
Patent searches can also be useful even if you do not have a specific new invention in mind, but when you are carving out your business niche.
Conduct patent searches to gauge the competition or search for “white space”
Patent searches can give you a clear and accurate insight into the intellectual property landscape around the area of your business. By finding and examining other patents in and around your niche, you can gain vital knowledge in two areas:
Sometimes known as simply “available space”, white space is the gap in the market in which there is space for you to take out a patent. If you notice that no one has found a solution for a certain problem in your area of business, or if there are not many patented inventions in your area of business at all, you will now know that you can come up with an invention and take out a patent yourself to fill in the gap.
Rather than looking for gaps in the market, you can use a patent search to keep up to date with the inventions of your competitors. This gives you two advantages.
Firstly, you will gain intimate knowledge of your competition, meaning you can adjust your own business plans based on the direction similar companies are taking. Whether you choose to follow their lead or to take the industry in a different direction altogether, this patent search will help you make decisions.
Secondly, running frequent patent searches will help you make sure you are not running into a patent “roadblock” as a competitor overtakes you and patents a new invention first.
Whether you are using patent searches solely for your own potential patents, or as a way to keep tabs on other businesses in your sector, there is no doubt that they can be hugely beneficial to your business.
And if you want your invention to see success on the global market, working with the language experts at Global Voices is the best way to truly protect your intellectual property on an international scale.