Patent literature searches are usually done for a number of reasons.
Preparation for drafting a patent application
To draft a strong patent application, a preparatory study of the known technology should be conducted. Although we assume that the inventor/applicant knows the state of the art in his or her technical field, we often find that an additional literature search is beneficial. This does carry a cost, but it nearly always improves a patent application.
You may also find out that your invention already exists, in which case, it is generally not useful to draft and file a patent application. Patenthuis advises inventors/applicants to perform a search themselves to determine the state of the art that should be taken into account when drafting a patent application. Such a search may be done via Espacenet or via Google Patents.
Patenthuis can also do this for you. A search in preparation for drafting a patent application usually costs 1200 to 1800 €.
Preparation for a Freedom to operate (FTO) study
In case you want to ascertain whether there are patents of other parties that may hinder your activities, an FTO study is needed.
A search to determine which published patents and patent applications already exist is typically the first step of such an FTO study.
Patenthuis can perform an FTO study based on your own searches or based on third-party searches.
Patenthuis can also perform this preliminary search if the client chooses. In such cases, wide search terms are defined to be certain nothing is missed. A lot of irrelevant results are also obtained during this process, but these are then removed by human intervention. The set of results thus obtained is then used for the FTO study proper.
Performing such a search, especially filtering the results, is difficult to separate from the analysis needed for the FTO study itself. For this reason, an overall budget for the search and the FTO study is usually agreed upon.
If an invention is not novel or inventive, a patent should not be granted. However, sometimes this occurs nonetheless and it becomes necessary to demonstrate the invalidity of a competitor’s patent (for instance, because you want to commercialize the technology yourself). In such cases, Patenthuis can search publications having a publication date before the priority date of the patent.
Depending on the importance of demonstrating the invalidity of the patent, the amount of effort invested can vary. It is, of course, never certain that something of relevance will be found.
An invalidity search is always defined and performed depending on the specifics of the case. The budget required can therefore also vary significantly. Please call to discuss.
You can also contact Patenthuis for smaller searches, for instance, to search for patents/patent applications of a specific company, or to determine the status of a patent or patent application that you came across yourself. A search will be able to determine if the application is still pending, if a patent was granted or refused, and its current validity if it was granted.
Such searches can often be done quickly and easily, and often cost no more than 100-300€.
Important remarks for all searches
A search can never be complete. However hard one searches, there is always a possibility that a relevant document is not found.
The more energy and time one invests in a search, the fewer documents will escape, but the costs will be higher. Completeness is, however, fiction.
For that reason, in search assignments, a target budget is usually agreed upon, depending on the importance of the case and the amount of residual risk that can be accepted. Obviously, for a bigger budget, a wider and more thorough study can be done.
Further, it should be noted that patent documents that were first filed less than 18 months ago cannot be found. These are still secret and have not yet been made available to the public.