Patent Search Basics

A “patent search” is a patent legal service performed by a patent searcher that searches for granted patents and published patent applications.  No other documents are researched in a patent search. For example, the patent search will not search for technical papers or news articles on technology related to your invention. There are two main types of patent searches: a U.S. Patent Search and a Foreign Patent Search.  The most common type of patent search is the U.S. patent search with some companies choosing to do a foreign patent search in addition to the U.S. patent search.

Is a Patent Search Required by the U.S. Patent Office?

A patent search is not required by the U.S. Patent Office.  While it is not recommended, you can file a patent application without first performing a patent search.

Why Should You Do a Patent Search?

The main reason to have a patent search performed is to determine the potential patentability of your invention.  Without a patent search, you will not know what patents or published applications exist.  Below is a listing of benefits that a patent search can provide you:
  • Identification of potential patentability problems.
  • Assists your patent attorney in drafting the patent application in view of known patents.
  • Inspiration to modify or improve your invention.

U.S. Patent Search v. Foreign Patent Search

A U.S. patent search searches only for granted United States patents and United States published patent applications.  A foreign patent search searches only for granted foreign patents in countries specified (e.g. European countries, Japan, Australia).  While foreign patent searches are not typically done because of the expense, if they are performed they almost always will include a U.S. patent search because the United States has one of the largest patent portfolios.

Cost of a Patent Search

A patent search is a small investment compared to the patent application process.  Neustel Law Offices typically charges a flat-fee for U.S. patent searches which includes an opinion of patentability by a patent practitioner. If you would like to receive more information about our patent search services, please contact us at 1-701-281-8822 or request our free brochure.