The applicant should ideally conduct a preliminary search before filing a patent application so that he can confirm at his end whether an application for the same invention ( or a similar invention) was made previously. The search can save time and provide the applicant with pointers for drafting his own application. To conduct a patent search, an applicant may do a physical search at the Patent Office or do it online.
Patenting an invention requires a lot of time and money. Therefore, it is crucial to scrutinize the invention before filing a patent application. The patent searches are of the following types:-
1. Novelty search
It is the most crucial quest for an inventor before filing any patent application. It can prevent wastage of a tremendous amount of time, money, and resources if done in time. This search helps the inventor decide whether to proceed with the invention or not. The search domain contains published patents, research papers, journals, and commercial items. The search domain includes three essential patentability criteria, i.e., novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. Searching for information regarding non - obviousness and utility of the invention also helps narrow down the possibility of the rejection of the patent.
Benefits of novelty search:
2. State of the art (SOTA) search
It is the most simple search performed to gather all the background information regarding the current status of technology in the respective fields of invention. The sole purpose of this search is to gather maximum information in the relevant subject area. It helps the inventor identify the technology level in the relevant art and gauge its scope. State of the art gives a complete picture of the relevant technical field to determine the direction of research and is, therefore, essential for the R & D initiative. It usually includes searches from conventional literature like research articles, thesis, press releases, etc.
3. Freedom to operate search (FTO)
It is one of the costliest searches of all the patent searches. As the name suggests, 'freedom to operate' means freedom to commercialize the patented invention. Once a patent is granted, the inventor receives full ownership over the invention and expects that she/he will commercialize the product. FTO searches help a lot in avoiding any future legal suits.
4. Patent invalidity search
Such kinds of searches are mostly done to avoid the future invalidity of an enforced patent. Sometimes, a third party can question the existence of the patent grant based on the novelty or obviousness of the subject matter. TO deal with any unfavorable situations in the future, inventors use invalidity searches.
5. Commercial status search
Depending upon the commercial availability of the technology, search results motivate the inventor for patent filing. Similar to the SOTA searches that reflect the research and development division of the technology, commercial status (technology activity) searches explore the existing inventors, organization, and current technologies.
Prior art searches are an excellent method to extract information regarding developments in the field of relevant art. The information can be retrieved from offline and online data centers. Offline searching consists of public patent libraries that could provide references for published patents. Selecting different operators with different fields and keywords helps the recipient retrieve more relevant patents with the exact required information.
Below mentioned are a few searching engine terms to simplify the prior art search:
To conduct a quality search for a patent application, all the required relevant keywords should be listed out after a thorough study of all aspects of the patent. The seeker must understand the invention's features, process, and product thereof. The factors taken into consideration before conducting a prior art search are mentioned below:
Different fields could be used to narrow down the results towards more relevant art. It helps the seeker to save time and money and gives a better understanding of his field of interest. Mentioned below are a few fields :
They are the logical commands for searching by positioning keywords at the proper place. Types of operators used in Indian patent search are as follows:
Different online data centers are available to retrieve patent search results, including national and international databases. Most patents are open to the public, but few have restricted access to patent authority only.
1. National Database
The national database for patent search is in PASS, i.e., the Indian patent advanced search system. The seeker can also search the patent by the Quick Company database. This portal serves the applicant with the registration and application status of the patent.
2. International Database
Online patent search databases are available to help the inventor explore the published or granted patents of their relevant fields of interest. Different international organizations use these databases in search portals to index and share their patents. Few online databases are:
USPTO - United States Patent and Trademark Office
WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization
EPO - European Patent Office
The following steps to be followed for searching for an Indian patent:-