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How to do a Prior Art Search

Prior Art and Patentability Searching Basics.

The basics on how to start and conduct a prior art search by Carson Patents – your patent search company. Learn patent searching basics.

A basic Patent Search is researching various data sources to determine if there is prior art that discloses your invention. Prior art is existing patents, patent applications, and publications (non-patent literature). It is found around the world. Prior art is those existing documents that are similar to your invention, or describe your invention.

Things you will need to do a search.

You will need three things for input into the search engines to do a patenting prior art search. You will need the following:

Description.

The place to start a patent search is with the description of the invention. A description of the invention that is just a simple sentence or two is the easiest to work with. A concise description is easier to work with. This is because what you will need for actual searching in databases is just the right few keywords and the right classification(s) for the invention. You are looking to locate all the existing products and processes that are the most similar to your invention.

Keywords.

The description is used to develop a good set of keywords to use for searching. The best keywords to use are those terms and phrases about the invention and its field of use that describe it most accurately and completely. A good concise description will be simpler to use. The concise description likely already has many if not all of the keywords that you will need to start a search.

Classification.

The final piece of input for a patent search is the classification. The classification system to use is the CPC Scheme (find it on the USPTO website). The CPC is the Cooperative Patent Classification system. The CPC (like all classification systems) categorizes inventions into classes. The idea is that all the other inventions that are like your invention will be in the same class(es). Searching by class is essential to a complete patent search.

Important TIP: If you don’t know or can’t find the class(es) for your invention, one place to start is the class(es) of the patents that you find with keyword searching. After you find a patent similar to your invention, you can use that patents classification as a starting point for your invention.

You should search the following data sources (places), at a minimum. The more places searched the more complete the search. However, the following list of sources will give you a good start. And, quite likely, more prior art (existing stuff like yours) than you were expecting.

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – uspto.gov
  • European Patent Office (EPO) – epo.org
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – wipo.int
  • Google Patents – patents.google.com

Steps to searching.

The following Three Steps are the basic process of searching for Prior Art and conducting the database search.

Step 1: Use the keywords to Search the USPTO or Google Patents databases. You are looking for products or processes that are similar to or describe your invention.

Step 2: After the initial search. Review the Results. – Assess, Evaluate, Refine keywords and classification(s) to narrow the results. You are looking for only those products or processes that are the most similar to your invention. The more specific the keywords are the better the results will be.

Step 3: Use refined keywords and classification(s) for Full Search of all data sources to be searched. An exhaustive search would include databases from many countries in many languages all over the planet. At a minimum, the databases available at the USPTO, the EPO, WIPO, and Google Patents should be searched.

What you must try to find.

Try to find out whether the invention is described in the prior art. Is your invention already available, or described in the existing patents, patent applications, and publications (prior art) around the world?

Important TIP. Proper searching greatly enhances good patent specification writing. Searching also guides writing claims to improve the protection they provide for your invention. Thus, proper searching can reduce or eliminate potential rejections and objections. Thus, it can save you money.

Patent Practitioner Help Recommended.

The United States has specific criteria for whether a patent, patent application, or other disclosure may be relevant prior art to a patent application filed at the US Patent Office.  For example in certain circumstances an earlier disclosure by the same inventor may be excusable.  In other circumstances an application filed earlier, but published later than your application may be cited against your application.  If you are unsure, we provide a Free Initial ConsultationContact Carson Patents to start the steps to patent for your invention.

We highly recommend that you contact a patent search company with a USPTO Registered Patent Practitioner for expert help.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.

Prior art searching and patentability determinations are time consuming and complex tasks. Importantly, all patents, patent applications, and non patent literature (everything in academia and the internet) from around the world need to be examined and considered in an exhaustive search. Further, the expert search needs to include any and all other related fields of potential use that may be applicable with the idea or invention.

How to do a Prior Art Search - Carson Patents

How to start and do a prior art search – Patent Searching Basics. Hire Carson Patents as your patenting prior art search company.

How much does it cost to get a patent?

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Patent Agent Legal Services

Patent Agent Legal Services? When it comes to legal rights, in pertinent part, property rights, there are licensed professionals who offer help in exercising or protecting your rights. Lawyers. For patents there are patent practitioners (agent or attorney) to deal with these special rights.

Patents are Intellectual Property and need a Patent Practitioner not an Attorney:

Patents are a kind of property, specifically intellectual property. A patent, the legal right claimed under Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution. A patent is the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling your invention. Property rights are your rights to enforce. You can do this yourself, but usually it is far more effective and efficient to hire a professional as the patent laws are complex and detailed.  An improperly filed and/or drafted patent application may prevent you from asserting your rights against potential infringers. 

The professionals that deal with personal property, real property, and intellectual property are lawyers, with one exception. Among the bundle of intellectual property rights are  patents. The USPTO issues patents, and registers professionals to practice before the office. Being a lawyer does not permit them to practice before the USPTO. Registration requires a separate application and examination process. To be allowed to communicate with the USPTO (“prosecute”) on a client’s behalf regarding a patent, an attorney needs to take an additional bar exam.

Patents need a Patent Agent or Patent Attorney:

Only those licensed to practice before the USPTO can prosecute a patent. Only patent practitioners (patent agents and patent attorneys) can prosecute patents; non-patent attorneys cannot. Whether a patent practitioner is agent or attorney is determined by whether they are a member in good standing of some state’s legal bar. In other words a lawyer. Thus, while patent agents prosecute only patents, patent attorneys can also prosecute other legal rights. 

Patent agents are not authorized or licensed to give legal advice in general. With that said, the US Supreme Court has held that patent agent activities incident to the preparation and prosecution of patent applications, even beyond the representation before the USPTO, like advising on potential patentability of an invention is permitted.

Patent agents can give legal advice during the drafting and prosecution of patent applications. However, this is not open ended. The usual forms of this legal advice are opinions on prior art, novelty, patentability, patent validity, and infringement. Patent agents can help with ownership and licensing by clearing up legal misconceptions about patents and recording assignments. Patent agents can also handle reexamination proceedings before the USPTO if the prior art shows that the claims should be narrowed or cancelled. 

For stuff like Infringement Lawsuits, you need an Attorney:

However, for some patent related matters like lawsuits for infringement, assignments, or employer/employee rights, you should discuss these things with an attorney who specializes in that area. Your best attorney choice may not be a patent attorney. I maintain relationships with attorneys I trust should you need to engage an attorney and need a referral.

Communication with a Patent Agent is Confidential (i.e. covered by client controlled privilege):

The advice and interaction with a patent agent is covered by the same confidentiality standard as an attorney. Client communication is held in confidence and is protected under privilege. Patent agents hold the same basic professional liability insurance as that held by attorneys, just limited to the practice of patent prosecution. 

Patent Services by Gregory D Carson, USPTO Registered Patent Agent

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How much does it cost to get a patent?

How much does a patent cost?

How much it costs to get a patent depends on three things. First, whether it is a utility or design patent. Design patents cost less. Second, whether it is a simple or complex invention. Simple patents cost less. Third, whether it is a US or an International application will contribute to how much it costs to get a patent. US only applications cost less. Contact Us to talk about the options.

Whether the invention or idea needs a Utility or Design Patent matters.

Utility patent applications are more complicated to write and prosecute. Design patent applications are simpler. There are major differences is in all three of the key areas of a good patent application. There are significant differences between utility and design patents in the description, claims, and drawings.

Utility Patents are usually more complex.

Design patents typically cost less than utility patents because they are simpler to write. Design patent application descriptions are not usually much longer than a few sentences. Whereas utility patent application descriptions are usually at least a few pages, not sentences, long. It is common to have 15 – 20 pages of written description for a utility patent. Whereas short description may suffice for a design patent.

In addition to the many more pages of description, utility patents also need additional pages for the abstract and the claims. Just the abstract of a utility patent, while limited to 150 words, is typically longer than the written description of a design patent application. The abstract is not needed for a design patent.

Utility Patents have more claims.

The difference in patent claims also helps explain the difference in cost. Utility patent applications usually have one or more pages of claims. In contrast to design patents that have only this one claim, “I claim the ornamental design as herein shown and described.” Utility patents usually have many claims of several different kinds.

Utility patents are not limited in the number of claims. Over 20 claims requires additional government fees. Utility patents can have independant, dependent, and multiple dependent claims. There are kit claims, method claims, Markush claims, and species claims too. Just to name a few.

More claims means more writing and prosecuting and thus means more cost. Claim writing can be complicated and difficult. Professional help is highly recommended for claim writing.

Utility Patents may even need more drawings.

The differences in drawings and figures between utility and design patents can also contribute to the difference in cost. Design patents usually have just the single set of figures to show the six orthogonal sides of the design. They may also have one or two 3D or partial section cut-away views to highlight the design.

Utility patent applications in contrast may need many drawings, as well as flowcharts, flow diagrams, operation diagrams … and the list goes on. Depending on the utility patent there may be many more drawings needed than for a design patent.

Whether it is a simple or complex invention or idea matters.

As you might expect the simpler the invention the simpler it is to write and prosecute. Simpler is not less import or less valuable, it is just less expensive to patent than complex. Simple is less expensive because there are fewer moving parts and elements.

For utility patents the description includes a full disclosure of how to make and use the invention. For design patents the description is a few sentences about what it is. The more complex the invention the more complex it is to write about and draw about.

More complicated patents not only require more time and effort on the written parts, but can also require much more time and effort when it comes the the drawings. Simpler requires less words to describe and fewer illustrations to convey.

More complex patents need more complex descriptions and drawings that require more time and coordination and thus they cost more to get.

Whether you want to protect your invention in the US only or Internationally matters.

Here at Carson Patents there is little or no difference in cost to write a patent application for the US or internationally. There is a big difference in the government filing fees.

US only patents cost less. This is because you are only seeking protection over the making, using, and selling of your invention in the United States.

International patents cost more. This is because the international application only does not seek protection in any country. Seeking patents in the various patenting offices around the world requires fees for each office or country where protection is sought.

Contact us to discuss your opinions and how to keep costs low.

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