How to Conduct Patent Search
How to Conduct Patent Search Patent is the exclusive right granted to the original inventor of a novel invention—product, process, or design. This right excludes others from using, making or selling the patented invention for a limited period. Therefore, a patent confers a monopolistic right upon the original inventor to reap financial benefits out of his invention. In order to avail this advantage, patenting an invention is necessary to provide the legal framework against infringement. Nevertheless, before that, an inventor has to conduct a patent search in order to determine where his invention stands in the world.
The first thing is to ensure is that the invention is novel and that someone else does not already have a patent on the product, process, or design. The first criterion of patentability is thus novelty. Large organizations, lawyers and researchers conduct such a search in leading patent databases in order to determine where their invention stands in relation to already existing patents. Patents include both technical and legal information in order to facilitate such a search. LIABILITIES OF COMPANY DIRECTORS
Patent searches are conducted for the following reasons:
- To determine the patentability of a product, process, or design. Signatories of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, which includes India, have a well-defined mechanism in place to determine whether an invention is patentable.
- Patent searches also help discover the current state of research and development in the relevant field. This helps inventors keep abreast with new technology and new processes and thus helps improve their own forays in research and development
- It helps in keeping track of the competitor’s activities. In a fiercely competitive market, this information is crucial in order to maintain competitive advantage and streamline economic strategy.
- Discovery of prior inventions in patent databases helps organization avoid unnecessary expenditure travelling a path already trodden by an earlier inventor.
- Patent search also helps to identify potential infringements to a patent an inventor holds, along with identifying areas of opportunity for patenting.
- Organizations also need to keep a tab on the patent databases to gather information about new patents and those that are still operational or have expired in order to devise a marketing strategy. They can go ahead and use or market those products or processes whose patents have expired. On the other hand, in case of an operational patent, they need to negotiate and seek an agreement with the patent holders to market or use the patented commodity or product.
It is crucial to understand the objective of a patent search before a search is initiated. There are different strategies employed by organizations to serve their purpose. These include:
INVENTOR BASED SEARCH:
This type of search involves forming a list of inventors through a study of the relevant documents or simply finding out the current patented works of an inventor from patent databases.
ASSIGNEE BASED SEARCH:
This involves searching for assignees/applicants in the databases. Then the search leads on to find out the number of patients under an assignee /applicant’s name.
CITATION BASED SEARCH:
This involves a study of both the forward and backward citations given in a patent document. Citations give references to prior technology on which a patent has made further progress. These can be extracted by using the key string search and patent classification search. This can lead to a further analysis of the cited documents to discover more references to be used in the citation search.
KEY STRING SEARCH:
This involves the use of keywords to search the patent databases. A combination of search keys, using keywords that define the invention and terms that are similar to words in the invention, is used to form a key string to hone in on the relevant patent on the database
PATENT CLASSIFICATION SEARCH:
Patents are classified on technical grounds to make it easier for searchers to find them. This kind of search involves identifying one or more classes to which an invention might belong. There are various classifications assigned to patent applications such as IPC, CPC and European classification (ECLA). Codes can be identified using keywords related to the invention. Patent examiners generally use this type of search, as they have to refine their search in order to identify relevant patent specifications.
Comprehensive research of the patent databases can be undertaken by the use of these strategies. They also help uncover relevant references related to a particular invention.