Before designers and manufacturers bring a new product or idea to the marketplace, it’s essential to conduct a patent search to protect their intellectual property.
Failure to take this step at the beginning of the process could cause them to lose a significant amount of time and money researching and developing something that is already available to the public.
The information below provides entrepreneurs and companies with the information they need to conduct a patent search before taking the time to apply for a new one.
How to Conduct a Patent Search
Before anyone officially starts searching, he or she needs to decide if the item to be patented is a utility, design, or plant. A utility is anything with a practical purpose while a design is strictly for decorative purposes. A patent for a plant covers any new species of plant that can reproduce itself asexually.
Next, the inventor should come up with keywords, classes, and subclasses that best describe the item to be patented. He or she should then go to the Patent Full-Text Databases of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
This allows anyone to search for similar inventions using a wide range of parameters.
If the searches return any results that are similar to what the inventor wants to patent, the USPTO will reject his or her invention.
In the case of clear results, it’s still important to take the additional step of visiting a USPTO Resource Center. Most states have a minimum of one office and some have several. This map provides details about each office.
Other Considerations Before Applying for a Patent
After conducting a successful US patent search and concluding there is nothing similar already available, inventors must still consider several questions before applying to the USPTO.
This starts with making sure that the idea or product has been kept secret. If it hasn’t, other inventors or businesses could patent it as their own before the inventor is able to do so.
This could be disastrous in terms of wasted time and money, not to mention reputation.
While the rush to get a new invention patented is understandable, there simply are no shortcuts when it comes to creating a design or prototype.
Without that in place, the patent is likely to be rejected anyway. Proper design, development, or prototyping involves creating drawings of the invention as well as providing detailed data about how it works.
Inventors should understand that the likelihood of their patent gaining approval is directly proportional to the effort they have put in to explain it.
The pending product or new idea must also be functional and unique in order to gain approval from the USPTO. When approving patents, the office strongly considers how many people might be helped by it.
It also needs to be a completely new idea, although creating a new use for an existing product is acceptable. Above all, it needs to meet USPTO standards of advancing science and useful art.