It is good practice to carry out a patent search before erecting a patent portfolio. These days patent attorneys routinely advise clients to carry out a patent search before filing a patent application. The reason given is that such patent searches can anticipate any problems clients may encounter during prosecution.
But a number of other benefits of a patent search should also be considered.
Trend analysis - Are you moving in the wrong direction?
The first of these can be called "trend analysis". For example, I was recently called upon to investigate the value of a patent for a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The patent covered certain principles governing the operation of the CVT. The search revealed a large number of patents owned by various vehicle manufactures. I quickly ascertained that the principles described in the patent in question had long since been abandoned by these manufactures.
The patents even described certain problems associated with those principles.
Clearly, the patent in question had very little value because the potential investors would more than likely be aware of those problems.
It follows that you can save yourself a lot of time and disappointment by using patents to understand the trends in your field of endeavour.
Getting your patent strategy right
The second of these has to do with your patent strategy. Your patent attorney will do his or her best to cover all the principles associated with your invention.
A patent search can provide a guide. It can identify those aspects of your invention that have already been protected. That allows your patent attorney to focus effort on those aspects of your invention that can be protected. It also allows you to identify those aspects that make your invention unique at an early stage.
The third of these has to do with investment. Most patent filers are looking for investors. Any investor worth considering will want to carry out some form of due diligence before making a financial commitment.
A professionally executed search as part of an investment proposal will help to convince the investor that the product is indeed unique. Not only that, it presents a professional approach and indicates that you have an understanding of the importance of the role played by intellectual property.
When to search?
The search should be carried out as soon as possible. In fact, if you are considering a new concept with a view to obtaining patent protection, a search should be the first thing you do. In fact, even if you are just developing a product, a patent search can be very useful. But that's for a different publication.
Drop me a note at email@example.com or call me +61 7 5529 9396 if you have any questions about searching.