What is a Patent Search?
A patent search, or patentability search, is a search of existing patents and other publicly-available documents (which is referred to as “prior art”) to locate the closest existing things to your invention. A patent application is scrutinized by the Patent Office by comparing the claimed invention with the prior art, and a patent can be issued if the patent examiner is convinced that an invention is new and not an obvious combination of things in the prior art.
A patent search is often the first thing that is done in the patent process. The purpose of a patent search is to determine how different an invention is from what already exists in the prior art. A patent search will not tell you if your invention infringes someone else’s patent.
The patent search benefits the inventor by identifying the closest prior art so that we can determine both how patentable the invention is, and also what specific parts of the invention are the most different from the prior art. A patent search can also reveal that the inventor’s invention has already been made – even if the invention has never been commercially available for purchase.
When we perform a patent search, we analyze the prior art in comparison with the inventor’s invention and draft a memorandum which summarizes the most relevant items in the prior art and also provides an opinion as to whether the invention appears to be patentable, and if so, what parts of the invention appear to be new in comparison with the prior art.
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