A search report is the first step many inventors take in the patent application process.
A search report will include a patent attorney’s review of existing patents and pending patent applications to determine if any existing works disclose similar features to an inventor’s invention. An in-depth analysis will then be conducted by the patent attorney between the features disclosed in the patents or pending applications and an inventor’s invention, and the patent attorney will form an opinion to determine what features of the inventor’s invention may be patentable.
A reason to hire a patent attorney to perform a search report is that the patent attorney can use his/her knowledge of current patent laws to better analyze the features of the patents and pending application resulting from the patent search with features similar to your invention.
Without this knowledge, it is difficult to form an opinion of the relevancy of the patents and pending applications found during a search.
Another reason to perform a search report is for the patent attorney and inventor to gain information on relevant patents in the field of your invention, which will lead to the broadest protection possible for your innovation.
Inventors may then use the results of the patent attorney’s search report to decide whether to continue with the patent application process. Upon completion of a search report, if it is determined that no patents or pending applications have similar features to an inventor’s invention, the inventor probably stands a good chance of obtaining a patent. On the other hand, if a patent search uncovers previous inventions with features that are identical or extremely similar to an inventor’s invention, an inventor may decide not to pursue a patent at all. This is because it is likely that the USPTO would deny the inventor’s request for a patent based on the fact that the inventor’s invention is the same as, or is an obvious extension of, existing patented inventions.
When a patent search and opinion turns up very similar inventions, an inventor may be very disappointed. However, it is much better to know up front, in order to prevent an inventor or company from spending additional resources on a patent that will ultimately be denied.