How to do a Patent Search?
Conducting a patent search (also known as a patentability search) can be an art form. As a rough guide, try using keywords that describe what your invention is or what your invention does. Start with the most basic, generic, and obvious description and function of your invention. Next, consider synonyms for the keywords and then think of terms that describe the keywords broadly or categorically. Now, consider the terms more specifically as in a hierarchy of terms. For example, if your invention has something to do with a "pen," broader and categorical search terms would include a "writing implement" or a "writing instrument." More specifically, you may be looking at a "ballpoint pen" or a "fountain pen."
What is a Patent Search?
A common misconception is that if an invention is not on the market, then it must be patentable. Wrong. There are many ideas that are patented, yet never reach the marketplace. A patentability search is a search for prior art similar to the invention for which you are trying to obtain a patent. Prior art references not only include issued patents and published patent applications, but also trade journals and other publicly available and searchable documents.
Why do a Patent Search?
Patentability searches are optional. However, inventors are encouraged to conduct a search for their invention as it serves at least two primary benefits. First, if the search uncovers an invention very similar to your own, you can save yourself the time and costs associated with the filing of a patent application and rethink your business strategy. Second, a patent search gives you an idea of the types of patents and patent applications already out on the market which can help you design around the prior art or even take the current state of the technology to the next level. The goal of inventing is to improve upon what already exists. Click here to learn more about professional patentability searches.