Patent research is often the first thing done within the patent process. Its purpose is to determine whether an invention is patentable. More specifically, it is a search for any patent documents, no matter if the patents are issued, pending, expired, or rejected. A patent search may also include non-patent literature such as scientific publications, textbooks, and newspapers. The information gathered in this way is commonly referred to as prior art, which the WIPO defines as ‘all the knowledge that existed prior to the relevant filing or priority date of a patent application, whether it existed by way of written or oral disclosure.’1
Why do patent research?
Patented inventions are the cornerstones for the successful commercialization of innovations. All companies that are big today once started small – and in most cases, inventions and patents were involved.
But why is it so important to conduct a thorough patent search? The answer is simple: to ensure that the invention or idea has not been claimed by someone else. Not only will this save you from costly infringement lawsuits, but also help you create something that is truly yours.
Other reasons for conducting a detailed patent search include:
- Make an informed decision: Patent research reveals the prior art in your particular field of business. This knowledge will help you assess the patentability of your invention and avoid spending time and money on something that might already be in place.
- Predict trends: Patent data offers invaluable insights for companies seeking to predict technology and product trends. This is even more important as patent grant is a complex process, with an average time of three to five years from patent to product.2
- Dispel any fears of infringement: A patent search helps you determine if a product or technology will infringe on any patents that are in force, which may result in expensive lawsuits.
- Gain competitor insights: Patent research allows you to discover competitor activity, identify new players in the market, and receive information on where and in which technology areas their patents are being filed.
- Discover collaboration opportunities: Similar to competitor insights, patent research findings also aid in identifying potential partners, patent licensees, and further patent monetization opportunities.
Requirements to conduct a reliable patent search
There are a lot of challenges when it comes to patent data. Patent information is publicly available and can be sourced from patent offices worldwide, but the quality of raw data is often insufficient. So, after learning about the various benefits of patent research, what is essential to conduct a dependable patent search?
First and foremost, it’s patent data quality and reliability. Any advice from patent professionals to their clients based on a patent search made with incomplete or inaccurate data can be dangerous for the client since they do not get a complete picture.
Access to accurate and complete patent information thus is essential for all patent practitioners. Our blog post on patent data quality for reliable legal opinions sheds more light on this crucial topic.
Another requirement for proper patent research is comprehensive data coverage. Almost every patent authority around the globe develops and maintains its own patent database, forcing patent practitioners to scan each database separately to collect complete data.
Modern patent search tools enable users to expand the geographic scope of their searches by offering access to patent documents from worldwide patent databases simultaneously from a single search engine.
Legal status and ownership information
A further prerequisite is accurate legal status information. Patents typically have a lifetime of 20 years, but they may go inactive before they achieve their maximum lifetime. Reasons for this include invalidation or lack of fee payments. It is, therefore, essential to know if a patent was ever granted for an invention and if that patent is still legally valid.
Ownership information is also crucial in this context as companies tend to sell individual patents and entire business units and even merge or get acquired. Hence, full tracking of ownership changes and the remaining lifetime of patents is essential to generate reliable insights from patent research.
Regularly updated database
A regularly updated patent search database provides users with the latest documents in the patent landscape and ensures fresh information on the most significant technology and market developments.
Translated documents for non-English patents
Another important requirement to conduct a reliable patent search is the availability of data in the local language. Manually translating patent documents is very time-intensive, while building machine translation capabilities involves large investments.
Modern patent search tools for better results
If we look at the aforementioned requirements from exactly the opposite angle, they represent challenges that make results from patent research unreliable. In particular, these are:
- Incorrect or incomplete data: Do I infringe on existing patent rights?
- Missing data from international patent offices: Do I have the full picture?
- Unreliable legal status information: Is the patent still in force?
- Delay in data updates: Do I have the latest patent data?
- Unreliable ownership information: Do I target the right company for acquisition?
- Patent information in foreign languages: Does the patent database contain translated versions of internationally filed patents?
But there is good news: These obstacles can be overcome by using modern patent search tools such as LexisNexis TotalPatent One®. The patent database combines high-performance technology with the world’s deepest archives to generate comprehensive global patent data.
Why choose TotalPatent One® for patent research?
- Unrivaled data quality: TotalPatent One grants you access to one of the world’s most complete databases, including 150 million patent documents, of which 120 million include full-text documents, high-resolution images, machine-translated data, and searchable PDFs.
- Comprehensive coverage: The patent search database helps uncover more prior art references from a single platform than ever before by providing access to patent documents from global patent authorities including pharmaceutical Orange Book and SPC information.
- Always up to date: Data is refreshed daily to reflect new patent documents from patent offices. Plus never miss any updates with free customized alerts that keep you on top of patent news.
- Reliable ownership data: TotalPatent One provides information on who ultimately owns a patent in corporations, M&As, and similarly named companies.
- Easy-to-understand information: You can browse in four different languages – English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.
Contact our patent research experts
We’re eager to connect with you and hear about your IP challenges. Get in touch with our experts to make your patent search effective and drive confident business outcomes.
Need to simplify your patent search?
Get quick, precise, and reliable results with full-text documents and high-resolution images from global patent authorities.