Common Mistakes in Patent Searches

A patent searcher’s role is to quickly and effectively find the matching prior art (both patent and non-patent literature) relevant to the invention under study. This article on ’14 Common Mistakes that you may be making in your Patent Searches’ highlight some of the common mistakes a patent searcher may make when conducting prior art searches.

Common Mistakes in Patent Searches

1. Not understanding the need for the search or Searching without considering the purpose

A searcher performs a patent search for various reasons. To determine the patentability of your invention, to ascertain the validity of a patent or invalidate a competitor’s patent. It might be for an FTO search, an infringement search, or a landscape search. Sometimes, the inventor or applicant is unsure why he needs to conduct a patent search. If there is any ambiguity, sort it out before you begin the search. Agree on what you search.

2. Not understanding the scope of the search or Mistakes in what to search for in different types of searches

You need to be aware of what a particular type of patent search entails. If a patent searcher is performing a patentability search, he/she cannot restrict the search to only patents or patents in few jurisdictions or only for the last 20 years. The reason being, any disclosure of the inventive concept in any publicly available work worldwide is critical for that assessment. In a clearance search, you do not need to search for non-patent literature, as the focus is on In-force and active patent applications. There is also a date and jurisdiction restriction for this type of search. Also, keep in mind whether to restrict a search by families or not. For example, every relevant patent family member should be searched and assessed in an FTO search. Whereas for a Landscape search, you can restrict to one member per family

6. Not understanding the search platform capabilities

Knowing your search platform’s searching capabilities before running your patent searches will help save time, formulate better queries and get you optimal search results. So, make sure you go through the features provided by the search platform to get the most out of it.

7. Search strategy formulation with different approaches or Mistake of keeping search query either too broad or too narrow

If you keep your search too generic to make it broad, you retrieve a large number of non-relevant results, and it would be a long-drawn-out screening process before starting the actual analysis. On the other hand, search only a few specific terms, and you miss out on relevant documents. You can be assured of an optimal search if you use a combination of both broad and narrow approaches.

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Common Mistakes in Patent Searches