To search or not to search is not the question here. You should always conduct a patent search before filing a patent. Rather, the question is, at what point in the process should a search be conducted?
As the saying goes, “timing is everything,” and this holds true with patents as well. There really is no definitive time frame in which to conduct a prior art search. In most cases, it’s either a matter of choice or circumstances.
Put a Purpose to Your Patent Exploration
Before spending time checking the United States Patent and Trademark Office search database for existing patents, think about why you want to do the search. The timing of a search for a patent is often based on two particular purposes:
1. You have an invention or an enhancement to an existing invention that is worth patenting.
In this case, you can check if a patent already exists either before or after filing for a provisional patent, but definitely before filing for a nonprovisional patent.
Whatever you decide, you would want to hire a patent attorney or patent services firm, such as Lonestar Patent Services, to conduct a patentability search, preferably in conjunction with your provisional patent application.
This type of filing protects your product with a patent pending status for one year while you get the invention finished and the necessary illustrations and diagrams ready for the nonprovisional patent application.
The early filing date also allows you to officially record your invention while waiting for the patent investigation to be completed.
2. You have an idea for a idea, but don’t want to waste resources completing it if something like it has been patented already.
In this situation, you would want to check the patent database early in the creating process. This will prove beneficial because even if you find a patent pending or already granted for a like idea, you can determine at the onset whether to move forward with modifications.
You may be able to easily switch gears and add features or make improvements that are not covered in the current patent filing.
An early search also allows you to consult with a patent attorney or patent services firm to determine if the differences between your product and existing prior art are enough to defend your patent application.
While you can conduct a preliminary search yourself to check the patent landscape, once you have completed your invention, you should have either a patent attorney or a patent services firm conduct a comprehensive search. This will reduce your risk of having your patent application rejected by the patent examiner.
A Patent Service Has the Timing Down Pat
At Lonestar Patent Services, a patent search is included in our new product development and marketing process. Patent protection is addressed after pre-determination meetings, invention analysis, development of a plan of action, invention design, the creation of 2D/3D illustrations, and invention engineering stages.
For the patent stage, you are assigned one of our U.S. registered patent attorneys who will write and file your patent applications. The patent filing will include advanced legal safeguards to prevent against competitor redesigns.
With Lonestar Patent Services, we’ll handle the timing for your search, so all you have to do is focus on perfecting your invention. To get the process started, simply contact us to learn how we’ll take your idea from concept to the marketplace.