When you have created something new, it is important you consider filing for a patent. The first step in the patent process is a search. Although you can do this on your own, it is easy to make a mistake that could be extremely costly in the long run. Therefore, if you are serious about your creation, you should also take your patent seriously – and this begins with a strong, professional search by a patent lawyer.
The Patent Search
Your Creation Must Be New
When it comes to patenting a creation, it must be new. Therefore, before you prepare and file a patent application, you should ensure a full search has been performed by a patent lawyer. This search is done to determine whether or not your creation already exists. Bare in mind ‘to exist’ does not mean the same creation would be limited to existing on the open market. Rather, a patented creation should have been described in a publication only.
Even if your patent search does not find your exact creation, a patent lawyer will likely look for similar creations already in the marketplace or in documents. If there is any similarities found, they will be cited in the patent application. This is important as it will determine how broadly your creation can be defined in the application.
A Patent Lawyer Is Obligated to Keep Your Creation a Secret
Your patent lawyer must be able to understand your creation well enough for a complete search to be performed. Rest assured, explaining the details of your creation to a lawyer is safe because all patent lawyers are legally required to keep your creation a secret. This is not the same as the client/attorney privilege law which other lawyers must abide by. Patent lawyers must pass a second bar exam which is also called the Patent Bar Exam. Part of this exam includes ethical and legal obligations that he or she must abide by. Furthermore, you do not need to sign any Non-Disclosure agreements with the patent lawyer.
“But, I Did My Own Search…”
It is very common for an individual to perform their own search, find nothing, and think they are good to go for filing a patent application. This is not necessarily true. As a patent lawyer might tell you, just because you cannot find your creation, especially in the marketplace, does not mean it doesn’t exist in a patent database. It is not uncommon for a person to file a patent, but lack the necessary funding to move forward with development and manufacturing. Other people will create something, file a patent for it, and place the patent in a file for many years.
There are at least 10 million patents at the USPTO, plus thousands more applications, and many foreign patents and applications. It is very important for a professional patent search is conducted before asking a patent lawyer to prepare and file and application.
“I Search a Patent Database and Found Nothing…”
Some people respond saying they’ve already search databases, didn’t find anything, and don’t need any more searching. They are “certain” nothing like their creation exists. It is possible that nothing exists; however, it is also possible that something like it exists, but their search didn’t find it.