Conduct a Patent Search - Secure Your Big Idea

Patent searches are an essential part of a successful patent application. Learn how to refine your idea and save time and money with a patent search.

How to Conduct a Patent Search

Let The Patent Professor® help you secure your innovation with this essential first step to filing a patent. Call (877) 318-2152.

Filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) typically starts with conducting a patentability search. Before filing the patent documents, patent applicants must make sure an international or United States patent doesn’t already exist for the invention.

A patent search helps ensure no one else has patented your invention. I can also help you show the patent office that your invention is significantly different from others that exist.

Patent searching takes time and specialty expertise. Hiring a law firm with extensive experience in intellectual property and patent searching can save you time and money through the patent application process.

Find out what goes into a patent search, how long it takes, and the proper steps to conducting a patent search – sometimes called a patentability search.

What Is a Patent Search?

A patent search takes place to determine if other inventions similar to yours exist or if yours is truly “novel.” Sometimes, experts call a patent search a “novelty search.”

The search often begins with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European equivalent, the European Patent Office (EPO). As a first step, your patent law firm searches the various databases for patents that might match your invention.

The search continues through pending patent applications to ensure no one else has filed a provisional patent for your invention.

A thorough patent search may also include online and print documentation and publications. During the process, you’ll compare your invention to prior art – previous inventions that might be similar to your new development. A thorough search may also research stores or e-commerce sites to see if someone already sells a similar item.

A patent search should cover all bases to ensure your product is novel and original or represents a significant advance beyond existing inventions or technology.

What Is Prior Art?

Prior art describes evidence that your invention was publicly known or available – either in actual, useable form or as drawings and documentation – prior to your filing for a United States patent.

Patent applicants may find their invention hasn’t been patented, but prior art exists that is similar to their invention. Prior art can refer to:

How Long Does a Patent Search Take?

If you’ve hired a law firm to perform a patentability search and provide an opinion letter of the findings, you may be excited to discover their findings. However, a thorough patent search takes time.

The Patent Professor® completes a thorough, multi-step process to uncover any prior art that could result in having your patent application denied.

Be skeptical of any law firm that doesn’t take the time to review all patent documents and check other sources in their patentability search. In most cases, The Patent Professor® can complete your patentability search in one to two weeks.

Depending on our findings, we will help you move ahead to the next phase of the patent process or help you adjust your patent documents to improve your chances of a successful patent.

The Benefits of a Provisional Patent

While you’re awaiting the results of your patent search, you may want to file for a provisional patent. A provisional patent protects your intellectual property while the patent process moves forward. Once you’ve filed a provisional patent, you’ve created a public record of your invention.

If someone else tries to patent the same thing while your patent is pending, their invention may not pass the patentability search process.

Once you’ve completed the patentability search and are reasonably confident your invention is both novel and non-obvious compared to prior art, you can spend the money to file a complete patent. That’s the final phase in patenting your invention.

How Do I Know If My Idea Is Already Patented?

Searching patent documents and patent applications for prior art is just one step in the process. The Patent Professor® also searches for prior art that could affect the patentability of your intellectual property.

We will report our findings to you in an opinion letter. Our patentability search and opinion letter details prior art discovered and analyzes the similarities and differences between prior art and your invention.

Take heart. Even if your concept has already been patented, you may be able to apply for a patent if aspects of it are different enough from existing inventions.

Can I Patent Something That Already Exists?

Your knee-jerk reaction to the question, “Can I patent something that already exists?” might be a resounding, “No.”

But that’s not quite true.

Even if prior inventions exist that resemble your idea, you may be able to secure a patent, anyway.

Your patent documents, drawings, and descriptions of your invention should emphasize the aspects of your invention that are new and non-obvious to someone in your field.

Your successful application depends on your ability to show significant improvements in your invention when compared to prior art.

Why Should I Pay For a Patentability Search Before Completing a Patent Application?

If the USPTO is going to search for similar patents and prior art before approving your patent, why should you do the legwork or hire a patent attorney to do a patent search for you?

That’s a good question with a simple answer. Performing a patentability search saves time and money. When a patent law firm you trust has already completed the patentability search, you reduce the risk of having your patent application rejected.

A patent attorney can help you refine your patent documents to increase your odds of approval, even if you can only patent a portion of your invention.

Finding the ways your invention or intellectual property differs from its predecessors – and highlighting those differences in your patent application – can save you time and money in your quest to patent your incredible invention.

Let The Patent Professor® help you secure your innovation with this essential first step to filing a patent. Call (877) 318-2152.

Scroll to Top