Gone are the days when the fastest way to contact people who live miles away from you is to call long distance (or send a telegram in areas where no landlines are installed). You are lucky if the person you are calling is home or in the office. Today, thanks to modern inventions, you can communicate with virtually anyone, anytime, anywhere. Everyone is just an email, text message, or a call via cellular phone away.
Inventors invest a lot of time, money, and effort to come up with products and systems that will help make everyone’s life more convenient. Thus, it is just right to allow them to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They should be recognized for their contributions, and for no one to take the credit away from them. That is what a patent is all about.
However, not all inventions are patentable.An inventor who intends to have his invention patented must first do a research to find out if a similar invention has already been granted patent rights.
Importance of Patent Search
Searching for similar patentable inventions (prior art) must be the first step an inventor should take before even considering filing an application for patent. He must determine whether his invention is patentable or not, and if there are similar inventions that have already been granted patent rights or have pending applications with the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO). This is to avoid possible infringement cases and litigations that may arise in the future. It will also save an investor time and money he would have otherwise spent in case he finds out too late that his invention is not patentable, after all.
Avoiding Possible Litigations
Getting entangled in a patent-related litigation can be expensive and time-consuming. Seeking the help of experts who are well-versed in the process of patent searching can help minimize an inventor’s risk of getting flagged for infringement once he decides to file his own patent application. An infringement case, after all, may be filed even in the absence of intent to infringe on existing patent rights.
The process of patent searching can give an inventor a good idea on what type of patent he can expect to get. He will also be appraised on the specific requirements that his invention must comply with, giving him enough time to prepare and do whatever needs to be done in order to improve his chances of getting his patent application approved.
Getting Ready to Face the Patent Examiner
By now, the inventor must know the specific aspects of his invention that are patentable, and he must be ready to make a good impression on the patent examiner. The examiner, through clear and detailed illustrations and descriptions in the patent application, must be able to see the invention’s strong points, what it is for, and exactly how it functions. This way, you will have better chances of being granted patent rights.
By doing your homework, you will be able to identify and prepare to address possible concerns and objections that may be brought forward by the patent examiner. If the inventor needs more time to polish his invention, and to conduct further research on the product’s viability in the market, he may opt to file a provisional patent application for the meantime. This will give him more time to work on his product while enjoying “patent pending” rights for a period of 12 months. The rights would cease to exist if he fails to file a regular patent application within the said period.
Patent Searching Tips
While anyone can do the search on his own, it is advisable to seek the help of professionals, as the entire searching process can be tedious and time-consuming. The process likewise involves a lot of intricate details that a non-professional searcher wouldn’t be expected to know. A neophyte may be at a loss on how and where to start the patent search. Keep in mind that there are thousands upon thousands of patent applications maintained in the USPTO database.
The inventor can perform his own preliminary search just for him to get a good grasp on the search process. However, to be on the safe side, a professional search must still be done to achieve better results.