Patent searches are conducted to explore how broad the claims of an issued patent may be. The result of a patent search often gives an inventor a better understanding of the potential value of a patent that may be awarded. When conducting a patent search, the prior art is reviewed to determine what has been previously disclosed. The scope of the previous disclosure is critical in determining how broad a newly issued patent may be because only inventions which have not previously been disclosed may be claimed in a patent. Generally, the broader the claims in a patent are, the more valuable the patent is. By conducting a patent search, the inventor may determine whether proceeding with a patent application is an efficient use of resources.
Generally, it is recommended that somebody start with a patent search before deciding whether or not to file a patent application. This is a good idea for at least two reasons. First, it allows the inventor to find out whether their invention is truly novel before incurring the potential time and expense associated with filing a patent application. Second, it provides the patent drafter with information about what has already been disclosed in the prior art. This information allows the drafter to write claims that maximize the intellectual property owned by the inventor while still keeping the claims narrow enough to avoid reading on the prior art.
For more information on starting a patent search or to find out if patent protection is the best option for your invention, contact Kelly G. Swartz to schedule a consultation.