Most of us like to feel that we were the first to have conceived of our great idea. Before investing the time and resources into applying for a patent, it is good to know if there are any other patents or publications disclosing something similar to your idea. Ultimately, this information will help you and your Patent Attorney decide if pursuing a patent is a good decision, or if designing around may be needed. Please note – a patent search is not the same as a clearance search (see My Article about the differences).
Typically, the importance of filing a Provisional Patent outweighs the costs of conducting a professional Patent Search. This is due to both relatively low costs of Provisional Patent filings and the time sensitive nature of Provisional Patent protection.
Think of it this way – if you only had, for example, $600 to spend, what would you prefer to get with that $600?
1. You can spend that money on filing for a provisional application for patent and gain legal priority to any potential patent rights for your innovation, as well as “Patent Pending” status on your innovation; or
2. You can spend that money to determine if your idea will be patentable in the long run.
For provisional patent applications, we recommend approach (A). Firstly, provisional applications are never examined for patentability. Rather, they are reviewed by the patent office for formalities, and then stamped with a priority date. The longer you delay filing for provisional patent protection, the less likely you are to be the first one to file for patent protection on your innovation – and if you’re not the first inventor to file, you may lose your chances of getting your innovation patented. As such, a patent search may only further delay and increase the expenses associated with filing provisional patent applications. It’s not a bad idea to perform a quick ‘knock-out’ search on Google’s Patent Search tool – this will give you a good idea if anything similar to your idea has been patented or patent pending.
Formal, non-provisional patent applications, however, are more costly and resource intensive than provisional patent applications. For that reason alone, it is usually wise to invest in a professionally conducted patent search prior to undertaking the expenses of non-provisional patent filing.
If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.
Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.
Source: Smartup Legal