10 Steps in a Patent Search

Patent search, generally, includes multiple steps which are carried out in an order, to identify relevant prior-art patent literature documents. With a good portion of the scientific knowledge, especially the technical advances, being covered by the patent literature, it become pertinent to carry out a patent search while identifying the prior-art documents related to an invention disclosure.

       1.Identify the key elements:

For the purpose of conducting the patent search for an invention disclosure; most of the times, the invention as provided in the said disclosure is not identified in terms of application or intended use, but by the various elements/components that are associated with the invention and also how they are linked to each other.

       2.Brainstorm terms:

One of the most important step in carrying out any text based search is to identify keywords to describe your invention. The keywords may be identified based on the purpose, composition and use of the invention. Also, sometimes, it may be helpful to identify various synonyms of the identified terms to broaden the scope of the search in some manner.

       3.Identify Key Patent Classifications:

Various national or regional databases may be searched to identify key patent classifications. For example, one could search the USPTO database to identify key US classes related to the technical domain of the disclosure. While searching these databases, it is advised to look up for the terms that most closely describe the invention. Further, terms should be used based on the process’s function, effect, end product, structure or use, to identify key class and subclass numbers.

      4.Verify with Manual of Classification:

Sometimes, it is also required to verify the classes and subclasses as identified in the previous step to eliminate any false leads.

      5.Check Patent Classification Definitions: This step is a supplement to the previous step, and includes reading the definitions of the identified classes and subclasses to establish the scope of the search.

      6.Broaden your search: Find additional patent publications using keyword searching in USPTO databases, classification searching of non-U.S. patents on the European Patent Office’s Worldwide Espacenet patent database and searching non-patent literature disclosures of inventions using the electronic and print resources.

      7.Try assignee search: If you have the information about the key businesses or research institute in the area of interest of your technology that you think might have filed patents relevant to your invention, then target specific search for such assignees.

      8.Try inventor search: Similar to assignee search, if you have the information about active inventors/researcher who is filing patents relevant to your invention, then target specific search for such inventor.

      9.Find patents by number:  If a certain patent number is known to be relevant or related to the invention disclosure, then the same may be located using the Official Gazette or electronic database.  Patent Search

      10.Use citations: For most relevant documents, look at the other documents these documents have cited.  This helps to discover other patent document that describe technologies similar to the one in question.

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