Patent is a license or permit authorized by the government conferring a legal right for a period of time. The main right is the sole ownership of the product and excluding others from making, using, selling or importing the patented product without the consent of the owner.
A patent is granted to an invention if it meets the following criteria:
- Novelty: The invention has to be new and cannot be a part of prior state of work, implying that it must not have been published, presented or revealed publicly.
- Inventiveness: This is a feature of invention that involves the advancement of the existing knowledge or state or work that is strikingly evident to any person.
- Utility: An invention must be applied to or applicable in industrial process.
Therefore, an invention that can be manufactured, used and reproduced is granted patentability.
The first and most important step to any patent registration is the patent search in the patent database active and inactive.
Advantages of Patent Search
- Patent search provides clarity on the imitation or infringement of the invention, product or service that is under patentability process.
- It determines the novelty of the product to be patented.
- A patent search procedure estimates the scope of patent protection you will be granted by the Patent Office.
- Patent search provides strength to the invention against issues of proof or validity from other applicants or patentees.
- Patent search is not only applicable to the active patents but also searches for resembles or copies in the expired or inactive patents database.
- It helps avoid unnecessary expenses in the field of innovation prior to investing.
Patent Search Process
There are few strategies or steps by which a patent search is carried out.
- Patentability search
This patentability search or novelty search is carried out to find out if the invention or product in question meets the novelty factor. In this case, it is necessary that all features of claims must be described in a single document. This step of search is useful in providing clarity on whether the invention is new or simply an inventive step to an old process. It’ll help distinguish the merits of the invention from its counterparts and most importantly, if the invention is ready to be filed for patent.
- Prior Art or State of Art search
This search is mainly conducted to identify the technology of invention and its purpose. The search is conducted on the databases relevant to or running parallel to the technology under scrutiny. Prior art search helps in identifying the resemblance in the current technology used and the technology used in prior art. It will also help the applicant in identifying the research and development areas, prospective problems that may arise, and possible solutions to these problems.
- Freedom to Operate (FTO) search
This search is also known as Right to Use search. Any company ready to initiate or launch its invention carries out the FTO. It does FTO search to validate if the company is not violating any intellectual property rights of others for its own benefit of commerce.
FTO is a comprehensive search method where even the inactive patents as well as the active patents are considered along with the pending and unexpired patents.
- Validity/Invalidity search
The validity or invalidity searches are two identical searches except that the results vary. These searches are carried out after the grant of the patent in order to determine the novelty of the patented invention at the time of patent application filing.
- Patent Landscape
As the name suggests, patent landscaping helps to get an overview of the invention with regards to its technology, its field of work, competitors, latest trends and research and development in the industry.
It helps to identify the necessity, strength and weakness, strategies, etc., of the technology used, the positioning of the applicant along its competitors in its domain, and different portfolios of existing patents.