Though quite often overlooked, a Patent Search is indeed a valuable tool that can help the inventors and innovators to a great extent in saving money, time, and effort and avoiding the common pitfalls involved in patent prosecution. Under the United States Patent Law, the invention has to meet the patent requirements for even the Patent Application to be considered. The invention has to be non-obvious, useful, new, and subject-matter eligible. After coming up with their innovations, the inventors wish to dive straight into the patent application process. They believe that since the invention isn’t there in the market yet, it automatically meets the said requirements. Unfortunately, this isn’t the scenario. With somewhere around 40 million patent documents already published across the globe and a million more added to this number every year – only a small fraction of these inventions end up reaching the market. The reasons behind the same may vary, with the most general one being the inventor failing in addressing the issues at the stage of patent research, disclosure, evaluation, protection, marketing, or licensing. Additionally, there is an increase in the number of patent applications filed as well. As per the reports issued by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), in 2017, international patent applications had increased by 4.5% to 2, 43,500.
Not all the applications filed are successful in receiving a patent grant. The journey beginning from the conception of a unique idea to getting the patent registered can be a costly, time-consuming, and arduous affair. Therefore, it is highly advisable to be on the right track since the starting and conduct a patent search to get a clear idea of what kind of technology already exists. Undoubtedly, it will help the inventor in ensuring whether investing any further in his or her invention would prove to be fruitful in the long run or not. Furthermore, it is also imperative to make sure that your innovation is not infringing upon any already existing IP.
AVOID EXPENSIVE INVESTMENT DECISIONS
Without any second thoughts, filing a patent application, at the beginning itself, costs a lot more than conducting an adequate patent search beforehand. Going ahead with filing the patent application without knowing whether your invention meets the patentability criteria or not – makes no business sense at all. The consequences can be harsh in the long run, due to which, the inventors must analyze the results of the patent search before it is too late.
IMPROVE THE PATENT APPLICATION
By becoming a lot more familiar with the literature available in the field of inventions and innovations, the inventors can use the knowledge to their advantage and further implement strategies to draft the patent application. It will help the inventors by increasing the chances of getting the patent registered and also make the invention “litigation-proof” in the future.
GAIN A COMPETITIVE EDGE
One of the most intriguing benefits of conducting a patent search is investigating the already existing patents and the pending patent applications. By doing the same, inventors can gain useful insights into their competitors’ corporate strategies and offerings and then accordingly make the business decisions. Technology maps, created as per the data obtained via the patent search, are specifically useful in this sense as they provide a precise visualization of the R&D expenditure and diversification of the competitors.
It is quite evident now that patent search has a significant role to play in the IP Protection puzzle. Despite the initial investment made, an inventor can save quite a lot of headaches down the road. Moreover, even if the inventor is an expert in this field and believes that his or her invention is unique and original in all aspects, there are still any great ideas that have been disclosed in patents and are not yet known to most of the people around the world.