Decades ago, you wouldn’t find the need to file a patent application unless you consider yourself an inventor. With the way intellectual-property is valued these days, however, filing a patent might be something you need to learn more about. Patenting protects you from any competitor. This article will cover the application for a patent but will focus on provisional patents and what they call a patent search.
What is a patent search?
A patent search is a literal search for any issued or pending patents conducted before submitting a new patent application. It looks into anything in the public domain that is related to the invention but is already protected under patent law. Similar concepts may also be found in patent drawings or documentation of prior patents. Conducting a patent search can save you money and time, get your invention patented with fewer complications, as well as prepare you and your patent attorney for possible rejections.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has devised a Public Patent Application Information Retrieval system. More commonly known as Public PAIR, this allows you to use keywords to search for similar patents. However, most individuals unfamiliar with the use of a patent software relies on a patent lawyer to analyze the information retrieved from the said database.
What should I look for?
Make sure to search for pending and issued patents. Provisional patents have not gone through the entire patent process and may not be helpful. Provisional applications are often used for a priority patent filing date and therefore do not hold patent rights just yet.
A patent is given to new, one-of-a-kind inventions, and a patent search will help ensure you have an original idea even before a provisional filing. If you encounter a patent for an exactly similar idea, do not attempt to file a patent, since the application will ultimately be rejected.
If you find patents for ideas that are similar to yours, save for one or two specific differences, describe these differences before you file a provisional patent. Experienced patent lawyers can help you articulate these differences so you can get a patent and enjoy patent protection for such ideas. In a way, applying for new patents is simply building upon older inventions through original and unique improvements.
When you search for patent information, take note that patent applications are published 18 months after the earliest priority date, following patent laws. Being familiar with the application number can help you look into a related non-provisional patent application, which can either be pending or approved following the patent law.
For other patent documents, a written request may also be sent to the Patent Office or the relevant government agency handling the patent application process.
To further augment your research, you may look at any related provisional patent application accessible to the public. They are rare, since the only time a provisional patent appears on Public PAIR is when the non-provisional patent takes over the provisional patent form. The non-provisional application must also be granted or published, so searching for provisional patents could be useful but are inherently difficult. This is why people hire a registered patent attorney when filing patents to protect things they invent or original ideas they create.
What should I do next?
After finding out through your patent search that your idea is patentable, do not rush with your application process. A patent application filed incorrectly or a form not filled-out properly can hurt your potential patent. To be sure, get the services of a patent professional, who can be a patent agent or an experienced patent attorney. They will help make sure that the following are in your patent application:
- Explanation of your invention
- Explanation of how the idea will eventually be used
- Known competitors
Should I seek professional help in filing a patent?
Applying for a patent is a complex process. On your own, it might be difficult to see the difference between a design patent, process patent, utility patent, or plant patent. Even more confusing are software patents, invention patents, US patents, and international patents. This is why most people get the services of patent attorneys. This will ensure that they are filing a patent application correctly and with less stress and hassle.
If you need assistance on the filing process of your provisional application or if you have general questions on how to file and apply for a patent and relevant patent fees, contact us War IP Law. Our experienced patent attorneys in Washington will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding intellectual property law. Call us for a free initial consultation.