Every business or company revolves around an idea or a unique name, but it is important to make sure that it has not been claimed by someone else. Otherwise, it could result in not only a financial backlash but also impact your reputation adversely. To avoid this humiliation, it is always a good idea to conduct proper patent research, either on your own or by hiring professional patent research services.
Conducting a world patent search can save you a lot of time and effort when you come up with the next big thing. Not only will it save you from infringement lawsuits, but also help you come up with something that is truly yours.
While results don’t always follow a specific pattern, here is a sample of what a patent research result might look like.
This is the beginning of a conducted patent research giving detailed insight into the idea of a “rack for holding paintbrushes.” The sample then follows several other paint racks that have been patented and shows that the idea isn’t new. It also holds that if the invention cannot be “pieced together” via the elements in the search report, that is if the invention has less or unique elements compared to those that have been patented, then the invention may be patentable.
What Is A Patent?
A patent can be described as a legal instrument that gives the inventor a limited monopoly over their invention in return for sufficient disclosure of the invention—meaning that the publication of the invention is mandatory for a patent. The aim of a patent is to allow the inventor to secure exclusive rights and increase the probability of increased financial rewards.
A recent example of a patent is a water harvesting system based on fuel cells, developed by Boeing.
What Is Patent Research?
Patent research is a search of issued and published patents that might fall into the definition of “prior art.” Prior art is anything public that may make an invention novel or determine that it has been done before.
While the main idea may be similar, an invention that does the same thing might be patentable if it does so more efficiently with fewer elements. There are countless patent research and analysis services that a business may hire to conduct this research for businesses.
- Utility Patents Cover items and their specific functions, for example, a specific IKEA chair or Mont Blanc Pen.
- Design Patents Cover the decorative and ornamental parts of items. For example, Crocs (shoes), a specific mouse design, a logo, etc.
- Plant Patents Covers newly invented or discovered plant species. For example, the Irish potato, Jerusalem artichoke, etc.
Different Patent Research Methods
Patent research is usually conducted through a suitable database. Different professional patent search services prefer different methods of sifting through databases, each being as promising as the next. Databases can be searched using:
There are several databases such as USPTO, Google Patents, Patbase, etc. that include lists of concepts that can be searched using a string of keywords, synonyms, or lexical terms. These databases aren’t all the same, differing in data coverage, interface, or search engine.
The problem with this search is that there might be a lot of inventions associated with each keyword. A water harvester might bring up many examples of water-related inventions.
Databases can also be listed and searched using patent codes. These codes are usually allotted by the examining authority based on the technical features of the invention. This means that each class of invention has its own code and patent research and analysis services can easily find related patents by searching the code.
The problem with this search, however, is that there is usually a long list of inventions that fall under a specific code, thus requiring you to search each one of them for relevancies.
Databases can also be searched via the names of assignees or inventor, using similar strings as searching with keywords but using names instead.
The problem here is that there might be different inventors with the same name. For example, the water harvested has been listed with Boeing’s name, and there are many other inventions listed with Boeing.
These search strings can be combined to get better results, but it also complicates the search criteria. Following is a chart that shows the comparison between different data retrieval methods.
Benefits of Patent Research
Patent research and analysis service can help you by creating a viable patent strategy, one from which you can benefit greatly. Some of them are:
Increase Market Share through Patents
A prime example of increasing market share through patents is that of Fractus, a mid-sized business. It successfully patented its antenna technology and earned royalties on the sale of every device that included an antenna—which is effectively every cell phone.
Defend Market Share
Companies can patent a ground-breaking idea to hold back its competitors, much like Amazon when it patented its one-click-purchase system. This patent allowed Amazon to get ahead of its then competitors, Barnes and Noble and it hasn’t lost that lead yet.
Boost Joint Ventures
In 2014, 49% of manufacturing and service firms used inventions from external sources to develop new products and services, and usually, patents on those inventions were the reason why these firms went into joint ventures with each other, instead of paying a royalty on every sale.
Organizations all around the world are increasingly depending on patenting their products, and the first step involved in doing so is conducting extensive patent research. There are several professional patent search services that you can hire to conduct a world patent search on any new idea you have, in order to help you reap all the benefits without the risk.