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Patent search - Did we really find it?

Patent search: did we really find it? Carrying out a search through specified patent databases for registered patents or patent applications can often result in an inconclusive outcome. The results of a patent search are often not sufficient to determine whether a registered patent will be granted or not.

The patent search may be carried out by a patent search company even before the invention is fully developed, i.e. when the inventor has simply had an idea, resulting in what he deems to be a competitive advantage within the market. The inventor is interested in applying for a registered patent, but may not yet have developed the invention. At this stage, he can search through patents in the field, and possibly find a result similar to the idea he himself wishes to attain with his invention. However, even if he finds similar patents – a situation that occurs in many cases – this does not necessarily mean that it is the exact same invention.

Patents are usually accepted based on new technical methods, i.e. not on the result provided by the invention. Thus, different registered patents can be found that attain the same result using different technical methods. For example, dozens of patents exist for different applications of electric toothbrushes, and for items like baby bottles. Multiple patents have been awarded for baby bottles, but does finding patents for baby bottles prevent more patents to be awarded for baby bottles? Not necessarily. If an inventor invents a baby bottle with new technical characteristics that improve something in the field, he can be awarded a patent for it. He can then sell the patent or receive an income from it.

A court judgment has cited this issue: in Civil Appeal 345/87 Hughes Aircraft Company v. the State of Israel et al, it was noted that “the progress required must not be obvious, but need not be huge. An inventive step is required, but it is enough for this step to be modest and small.”

Many of the registered patents listed at the start of the application document will have their own list of similar patents, sometimes a list in the dozens. Having a list of many similar accepted and registered patents has not necessarily precluded later inventions from yielding their owners an income. Many patents have brought success to their inventors and companies round the world.

A patent search carried out when only the idea exists but the technical method is yet unknown to the inventor can result in the discovery of similar patents. The inventor may decide to continue with his business venture and thereby losing out on potential income that he may have earned had he continued in his enterprise, despite the similar patents that he found. Sometimes, the market’s need for a simple, cheap and effective technical solution can overcome the competition of other patents in the same area. However, it is important to consult with a patent attorney in all cases. A patent attorney can provide the inventor with information. The patent attorney who drafts the patent application can decide of the list of similar patents is likely to harm the current invention’s chances of receiving a patent, whether completely or in part.

Sometimes, a patent search unearths patents on some aspects of the invention. In other words, part of the invention may receive a patent, but part may not. But while the inventor does not know how his invention will emerge, i.e. the technical way that he will fulfill his invention, a patent attorney should be consulted.

If an inventor has an idea, but no practical way to carry out that invention, even if it is a new, innovative and exclusive idea, and is not comparable to anything that already exists, he may not be awarded a registered patent. This also holds true if there are no similar patents in the field, due to one particular requirement of getting a registered patent in accordance with patents law:

“12. Specification (updated 5755)2

(a) The specification shall include a title by which the invention can be identified, its description with drawings that may be necessary, and also a description of the manner in which the invention can be performed, enabling a skilled person to perform it.

It is therefore important to plan the fundamental concept with a technical team that is familiar with the field of patents. Once the technical team has prepared the concept plan, and passed the technical details of the invention to the patent attorney, the patent attorney can compare the new invention with existing registered patents. He can also make suggestions to the technical team, or let them know that he needs more details to increase the chance of getting a patent.

It can be very difficult to decide conclusively whether a previous patent will impede a new registered patent from being awarded. During the patent’s examination by the Patent Authority’s examiner, the patent attorney who drafts the patent application may change its wording in light of reports received from the Patent Authority. The patent attorney can talk to the Patent Authority’s examiner, through which he can work around previous publications in many cases. The patent examiner is a human being with his own discretion, despite being governed by Patent Law and its judgments. Nevertheless it is possible to read many articles by scholars on the consideration of patent examiners, as one examiner may hold a different position than other examiners.

Patent law differs between countries. This is important because it is possible that an invention with a list of previous similar patents will not be accepted in one country, whereas it will be accepted in another, with differing attitudes in some of these issues. For more information about American law, read about registering a US patent compared to European law.

The patent search can be carried out by the inventor himself. A free patent search can be done by anyone on the internet. Patent databases are not the exclusive province of patent searching companies; patent databases are available to be searched through efficiently by any individual online at no cost. The inventor can personally search through the patent databases, and learn about other patents that exist in the field. This can prove useful to the inventor, as he may see how other people solved similar problems, which may help him to solve a problem more efficiently or economically with his new invention.

Our company provides services from the initial idea stage. Our technical team will usually plan the concept of the invention in its first stages, and the technical materials are passed to the consulting patent attorney who drafts the patent application. A combination of technical professionals in who are knowledgeable and experienced in the area of patent development together with a patent attorney allow the inventor to increase his chances to succeed in his business venture. This can be through finding creative solutions from the idea, or through planning and implementation of the final product, or by using expert licensed patent attorneys who can help draft and edit the patent application.

If you have an idea or invention, contact us, and allow us to examine your case individually; we will be happy to help you. Once we have signed non-disclosure agreement, we will fix a free introductory meeting and provide you with further details. Telephone: 03 973 0410.
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