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Why You Should Conduct a Quick Patentability Search on Your Own Before Turning to the Experts

It's critical to do your own research before you take the next steps.

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A patentability search is conducted to determine if a given invention is novel or not. Loosely defined, patentability search is a process of searching patent, scientific and other literature already existing in public domain that discuss inventions similar to the one proposed. Such a search can be comprehensive or quick in nature. While a comprehensive search is usually conducted by an experienced patent-searching expert with relevant domain knowledge, a quick patentability search can (and should) be performed by anyone, including the inventors themselves.

Ideally, this quick search should be conducted before a comprehensive search in order to optimize costs and make necessary tweaks to the search subject or invention disclosure, which will lead to better results when it comes time for a comprehensive patentability search. 

Related: 7 Ways to Save Big Bucks on a Patent Attorney

Why do a quick patentability search?

A quick search helps inventors get familiar with the existing literature and knowledge in the domain.

Further, usually, patents and scientific literature contain knowledge and technologies that are not yet available in the market. Accordingly, they can reveal not only promising prior-art, but also help in exploring the current state-of-the-art in the invention’s domain. It helps the inventors and decision-makers gain perspective and familiarity with what already exists in the respective technology area.

This knowledge may help inventors or stakeholders further improve upon their inventions before patent filing and prepare a tentative outline of their patent strategy and what they intend to cover in their patent applications.

It also helps inventors avoid any further costs on comprehensive patent searching and patent-application preparation if they find out their invention isn't novel during the quick-search process. 

How to conduct a quick patentability search

One of the quickest ways to conduct the patentability search is to use AI tools available in the market like www.livepat.com. AI tools rely on deep-learning, neural-network and natural-language processing to create patent-search strategies and analyze the huge volume of information automatically. While using AI tools, one can set the number of hits to be displayed. These tools might yield promising prior-arts that can help inventors gain perspective.

However, a study suggests that none of the available AI tools can (yet) support every aspect of the prior-art search process. The experimental results for precision vary between 30% and 50%, which means that the first ten search results may contain three to five useful documents. Therefore, one can seek assistance from patentability-search firms that can further refine the results through manual intervention and expertise. 

Additionally, a quick traditional search or manual patentability search can be conducted on the available patent-search databases to explore other inventions in the respective technical domain. Here, a basic search string, using important keywords related to the invention, needs to be prepared by the inventor to search on the database of his or her choice. Once the results are returned, the inventor needs to review them to see if there is an overlap with the invention. Some of the promising free patent-search databases include Google Patents, Lens.org, WIPO Patentscope and Espacenet. 

Further, searching through non-patent literature is also useful to identify research papers, blogs and products that provide useful information. Some of the databases of choice may include Google Scholar, Science Direct, IEEE Xplore, ResearchGate and ecommerce websites. 

Related: Before You Crowdfund an Invention, Consider Patent Protection

The difference between quick and comprehensive patentability searches

You may be wondering what work the professional patent searcher would do in addition to your own and how the output of a quick patentability search differs from that of a comprehensive search.

To briefly answer this, professional patent searchers use professional and more comprehensive patent and non-patent databases for a better coverage of worldwide literature, leading to more comprehensive prior-art search results. This is important because once you decide to spend money on patent-application preparation and patent filing, the patent offices will search such comprehensive databases for worldwide literature, and they may reject your application if they find prior-art in their searches.

Further, professional patent searchers not only focus on the novelty of the proposed invention (which is one of the criteria set by patent offices for determining patentability of any invention), but also on the slightly-harder-to-determine, "non-obviousness" of the proposed invention (which is another equally important requirement by patent offices for patentability of any invention).

Accordingly, getting a comprehensive search by a professional searcher will help you make an informed decision on whether to proceed with patent filing or not and determine what the final scope of patent application should be. This will help you file an optimized application for your patentable invention, significantly reducing expenses during patent prosecution and reducing chances of rejection of your patent application.

Both quick search by inventors and comprehensive search by professional patent searchers are important. While it is possible to skip the quick search and go directly to professional searcher, it's ill-advised because a quick patentability search gives inventors a broader perspective to help improve their inventions (which is not possible based on the professional search report), helps them optimize costs by skipping professional searching for unnecessary cases and provides better input to professional searchers for an enhanced output at the same cost.

Related: When It Makes Sense to Hire a Patent Attorney

Tarun Kumar Bansal

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Tarun Bansal is a seasoned entrepreneur, well-known patent strategist and avid traveler. He is renowned for scaling up businesses across industries including the service industry, baby products industry and more.