Protecting your invention with a patent prevents others from using it without your permission. Nonetheless, your idea may also not be new, which means it won’t be eligible for a patent. Accordingly, you need to conduct a search to determine if someone else or a company already has the idea.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides several resources to help you search for patents. Here are three benefits of a patent search:
Applying for a patent costs thousands of dollars that may not be refundable, or at least sooner if the application is denied. Thus, searching for a patent can help you avoid this costly mistake because you can make informed decisions if your idea is already in use.
The patent application process can be lengthy as it requires paperwork, including forms and documents explaining the implementation of the idea. Coming up with an idea, completing forms, writing reports on how it will be executed, filing documents and going to the respective offices to follow up can take time.
But you may not feel the pinch when your application is approved. It can be disheartening to sacrifice time only for your application to be denied because the idea has already been patented.
Alter your idea
If your idea has been patented by someone else, you don’t need to drop it – you can alter it, distinguishing it from the other invention (s). For example, you can focus on a different way of carrying out the idea or on one element of the idea. Of course, you need to search if the altered idea has also been patented.
Conducting a patent search offers substantial benefits. It will be best to work with an expert for a thorough search.