Before hiring an attorney, it is never a bad idea to conduct an initial prior art search to take the search deeper. To that end, the following are some prior art research methods we recommend utilizing as you determine the appropriate direction to take for your product and patent.
Understand Your Goals
Identify what specific goals you want to achieve with your search. Are you looking to determine whether or not it makes sense to file for a patent? Do you want to avoid the submission of a patent application that isn't patentable? Looking to confirm freedom to operate? Do you want to determine ways to highlight the novelty of your invention? Do you want to learn the best way to market your product? Are you desiring to get as broad of coverage possible without getting rejected? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you zero in on the relevant search results that you can present and discuss with your patent attorney. Further, knowing the answers you want to find can help you know when it's time to stop searching and move forward on next steps in the application process.
1. Get Creative and Describe the Invention.
The more creative and thorough you are with your descriptions, the better the results you will receive. Consider all the words and ways you can describe your patent. Be sure to include industry-appropriate jargon and terminology in your search. If your product is utilized in multiple industries, be certain to include all of the sector appropriate variations you may encounter.
2. Learn How to Use Databases and Internet Searches.
There are numerous databases that contain patent information. The USPTO, Espacenet, Patentscope, Patent Lens, and Google Patents are some of the most commonly used. Each of these is publicly accessible. However, they are not created equal, and you must learn how to prepare your search based on the specific database. Each of these databases is equipped with brief tutorials and help sections that can show you how to generate the most beneficial results.
While the databases are the right place to start, it's also vital to scour the internet. Google Scholar, trade magazines, news articles, etc. can also provide a wealth of results. Searching these resources in addition to patent databases will provide a more comprehensive picture to review.
3. Keep Your Records Straight.
Even a seemingly simple patent search can return a mountain of results. Develop an organization system to keep your results organized. There is no right or wrong way to do this; it is a matter of finding the right way for you to quickly compare your data. Having a record of the searches you performed, and easy ways to search through your results, can also help your attorney determine steps you might have missed or other potential search terms that are worth investigating before you invest more time and resources into the development of your project.
4. Don't Panic.
Of all the prior art research methods we recommend, there is an essential one you should always remember; it's the "don't panic" philosophy you need to remember at every stage of your search. During your search, your search queries will return at least one, and potentially hundreds of patents for products and services. These may be similar; they may not be. Always remember that if you find multiple inventions with minor variations, it is a reminder that there still may be ways to make even the oldest product brand new and novel.
Contact Global Patent Solutions at (877) 234-0141 for more information about the prior art research methods we use to conduct thorough searches for our clients. We have access to a plethora of search tools far beyond those mentioned above, and we utilize disciplined processes to ensure that searches are thorough and comprehensive. Last, we organize the results in such a way that decisions and next steps are made clear for you and/or your attorney. It is our pleasure to discuss our services with you and to help you move forward with bringing your product or services to the market.