1. TO PATENT OR NOT TO PATENT
Before taking steps to protect an invention by way of a patent, it is essential that appropriate searches be conducted in order to determine whether the invention is novel and whether the protection that could be obtained is broad enough to prevent third parties from plagiarising a business opportunity simply by avoiding infringement of a narrow monopoly.
2. THE PATENT SEARCH
A search for prior art in relation to an new development may be conducted through the patent disclosures that are available on the Espacenet patents data base.
Patent disclosures may be searched by:
a) subject matter;
b) patent number(s);
c) names of inventor(s) and/or applicant(s); and,
d) classification(s) of subject matter in which a development is classified.
3. APPRAISAL OF PATENT SEARCH RESULTS
The appraisal of search results is something that is best undertaken by an IP expert and especially an IP expert whose qualifications are those within which an invention falls. Copies of disclosures found during an Espacenet search may be downloaded free of charge as long as they are used only for research and appraisal purposes.
4. OTHER SEARCH ACTIVITY
In order to ensure that a development, patented or otherwise, has a chance of success in a commercial market, it is also essential to effect an appraisal of the products and services that are currently available, or have been available at sometime, because it may prove to be a fruitless exercise if the launch of a business and/or the exploitation of a development is undermined by products and/or services that exist in the market place at present, or have been marketed in the past only to be replaced by improved products and/or services.
One place that is readily searched for products and/or services that may impinge upon a proposed commercial venture is the ‘Google’ network where results of a search may be readily downloaded for further appraisal.
*John Grant is Senior Patent Attorney at Trevor Baylis Brands (TBB) plc. TBB has provided advice to thousands of individuals and companies on the best way to develop their business and protect their intellectual property. Building Enterprise (BE) Ltd is a new development from TBB offering a one-stop shop for innovation development, helping to take initial ideas through to a successful commercial outcome.*
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