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How can I know if my idea exists?

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In today’s competitive business landscape, patents play a crucial role in protecting intellectual property. They have a secondary role in the innovation process in that they are critical to fostering innovation.

When you have a new idea, you are confronted with two major questions that need to be answered quickly. They are:

  1. Is my patent novel and nonobvious?  
  2. Am I the first to file?

The root cause of these questions is to fulfill the need of the entrepreneur to know if the idea already exists.  The second question is important because the U.S. and most foreign patent office’s patent granting apparatus is based on the rule that the first to file is eligible for a patent. That mean seven if you conceptualized the idea first, if you do not file first, you are not eligible for a patent.  

Therefore, conducting a patent search can be an essential step before filing a new patent application to ensure its novelty and avoid potential infringement issues. However, even for seasoned inventors, navigating the patents search process can be quite overwhelming.   In this article we overview key steps to making the most of a patent search also known as a prior art search.

I. Understanding the Importance of Patents Search.

It is crucial to understand why conducting a patents search is essential. However, time is of the essence because the more you delay filing, the more time there is for another inventor to jump in front of you at the patent office. The primary purpose of a patents search is to determine whether your invention or idea is novel or non-obvious and therefore is eligible for patent protection. If you conduct a thorough search, you can uncover prior art. The prior art can include existing inventions or publications related to your invention. The prior art could limit or eliminate the chance that your invention is eligible for a patent.

II. Identifying the key elements of your invention.

First, to conduct an effective patent search, you must clear identify the key elements of your invention that make it innovative. These elements will be the basis for your search. Critical elements of the search include keywords, synonyms, and related terms that describe your invention.

III. Conducting the Patents Search

The next problem is, where do you search?Remember, the more time you spend prior to filing, the more time you provide someone to file before you at the patent office. There are many options, including public databases like Google Patents and Espacenet or commercial databases such as LexisNexis and Derwent Innovation. However, Menlo ParkPatents provides you with a low-cost and easy to do alternative based on A.I.

With the MPP process, you can swiftly identify patents that may serve as prior art to your invention, enabling you to move on to the filing stage and prevent someone else from filing before you.

III.  Analyzing and Evaluating the Results

The results from the research can be used to refine your invention and patent and improve the possibility of the patent being granted.

After conducting the search, you need to analyze the results.

A good process includes separating the patents into three main groups:

  1. relevant prior art,
  2. similar inventions, and
  3. non-relevant patents.

Relevant prior art includes any patents or publications that are similar to your invention and may affect its novelty.

After you have segregated the results of the search, you need to review the relevant prior art to determine its impact on the ability to get a patent. Compare your invention’s key elements and those described by existing patents or patent applications. Remember, the disclosure is important because if the specification discloses your invention but does not claim it is still prior art and will be cited against you during prosecution.

Conducting a thorough patent search is an integral part of the patent application process but remember it must be done quickly to speed up the filing process.  

Menlo Park Patents is committed to providing valuable assistance to increase your chances of successfully protecting your invention.