Different Types of Patent Searches
When an individual or business is looking to apply for a patent, they are usually surprised to discover the array of options that need to be analyzed in order to conduct a proper patent search. The reason there are multiple patent search options is because the scope of the search will be determined by the overarching reason for the search.
Generally, there are four types of patent searches that can be conducted:
- Novelty (patentability) search
- Freedom to Operate (FTO) search
- Non-infringement search; and
- Validity search
Let’s take a look at each…
The most common type of patent search is the novelty search. Why? Because this type of search is initiated to help determine the likelihood of successfully getting a patent application through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Most startup companies engage in a novelty search to help assess whether a particular invention is actually patentable and worth the time and money to pursue a patent with the USPTO. Another benefit is that a novelty search routinely provides valuable information to inventors. For example, it can provide context and insight into other businesses competing in the same sector.
To complete a novelty search, you will need to clearly identify the invention and itemize each element and key aspect that you believe makes your invention novel and unique. Once this is done, a comprehensive search can be conducted through the USPTO database for patents and publications, Google, and other databases to assess whether any aspect of your invention has already been patented or would be considered “obvious” to the point where filing a patent application would not be worth the time, money, and energy.
Freedom to Operate Search
A Freedom to Operate (FTO) search (also known as a Clearance search), helps determine whether it would be prudent to commercialize a particular product in light of current products that have enforceable patent rights. The FTO search would determine whether you have the freedom to operate and commercialize an invention without a major risk of getting sued for patent infringement. If, for example, a Freedom to Operate search locates information that indicates a risk of patent litigation, you can assess whether to abandon the commercialization of the proposed invention, engage in a redesign, or possibly reach out to the owner of the patent and negotiate a licensing agreement.
A non-infringement search, much like a Freedom to Operate search, is generally pursued to help determine if a proposed invention could infringe on an already-active patent. However, this search is unique in that it focuses on a specific patent, or set of patents, that have been previously identified as relevant to your invention. Engaging in a non-infringement search is generally recommended when a new product, process, or technology is created but is known to be similar to an existing patented product, process, or technology. This is especially true when there are known and recognized competitors with enforceable patent rights.
The validity search is considered to be the rarest form of patent searches. It is typically only pursued in the context of patent litigation where a defendant, or potential defendant, in a patent infringement lawsuit is seeking information that could be used to invalidate a particular patent thereby nullifying that patent owner’s legal rights.
Need Help with Conducting a Proper Patent Search? Contact an Experienced and Respected Patent Attorney in Los Angeles Today
As noted above, there is an inherent level of complexity associated with even attempting a patent search. To help ensure the search is done correctly and thoroughly, contact the highly reputable patent attorneys at Omni Legal Group. Omni Legal Group is a premier Patent, Trademark, and Copyright law firm located in Los Angeles. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact Omni Legal Group at 855.433.2226 or visit www.OmniLegalGroup.com to learn more.