When applying for patent rights over your idea or invention, it is prudent to perform a patent search prior to submitting the application to the relevant intellectual property registry. The purpose of a search is to ascertain whether your idea or invention is available to register; if your invention is already in use and is registered on the patent database, then you cannot continue with the registration process.
Eligible persons to conduct patent searches
Professional consultancy firm
It is advisable to enlist the services of a professional consultancy firm that specialize in patent registrations and searches. Not only will this ensure you receive reliable and confidential advice, but it will also demonstrate to a court of law that you acted in good faith when seeking patent protection. A consultancy firm can also advise you on the entire registration process and the requirements that must be met in order to succeed in getting a patent. Further to this, a search can be performed quickly and efficiently, with a report of the results made clear to the individual.
In a similar way to a professional consultancy firm, enlisting the services of a patent attorney will effectively show to a court of law that you acted in good faith and demonstrated due diligence when seeking your patent rights. Many people seek guidance from attorneys when filing for a patent as they are specialists within this particular niche area of intellectual property law. Attorneys also focus all their time and energy on stay up to date with the latest developments to patent laws and registration/renewal processes. In addition, the complexity of patent search results can often mean that individuals find them difficult to interpret; it is therefore prudent to have a attorney perform the search on your behalf.
Owner of the invention
Although it is advised that you seek professional help with regards to patent searches it is not obligatory; the owner of an idea or invention can conduct a search him/herself. A search is achieved by accessing the relevant intellectual property authority’s database. Once you have access to the database, you need to input the relevant criteria about your idea or invention and then begin the search. It is important that you conduct a search in all the jurisdiction where you seek protection.
Most jurisdictions will have a database of all registered patents that is available online and thus available for intellectual property owners to search. However in some countries there may not be an online database available to view and so it is necessary to enlist the help of an attorney.
Risks of not performing a patent search
It is not obligatory to conduct a search; owners of an invention or idea can apply to the relevant office for registration without having performed a patent search at all. However, this poses a high risk that the patent may be declined if the intellectual property office finds the patent to be registered, or a similar one in use, when they perform their own search.
If your application for patent registration is rejected on the basis that the intellectual property is already registered then you will lose your application fee.
Due to the great importance of conducting a patent search it is advised that you seek the professional help of an attorney or professional consultancy firm that are experienced in all areas of intellectual property law.