It can be helpful to conduct your own internet and patent database searches to see what else is out there. This can save you time and money by giving your attorney an idea of how you believe your invention sits alongside any competing products or services.
When searching, you should be making sure there are no existing inventions like yours, as well as any existing patents like the one you plan to file.
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching:
- look for documents which contain something that is the same or similar to your invention. These might be patent documents or research and scientific literature relevant to your product
- look for anything which proves your invention isn’t new. This can be a good decision making tool as you may learn you need to focus on different aspects of your invention that are new and inventive, or even reconsider applying for a patent
- find out if your patent will possibly infringe on any existing patents. By finding the patents of competitors or similar products your attorney can be confident in how best to protect your invention
- look at the status of the patents that you find. Patents or patent applications that are pending or in force will be the most relevant to avoiding infringement. Location is also important, it can indicate which countries are or aren’t covered by the patent
- if you find existing patents or patent applications that are similar to your product or service, you can then consider your options for patent protection
- pay attention to the claims of these patents and patent applications, as they will set out the legal boundaries that will help your attorney determine whether infringement will occur.