Patent searching is part science and part art.
Here we describe a very simplistic method for prior art searching (the research needed before you file your patent application). Espacenet is a great place to start because it allows you to do the free portion of your searching.
The “art” in these steps is knowing when and how to follow the trail of an interesting patent. Like a detective investigating a crime, follow your most significant leads first. They will often lead you to new and important information.
Finally, these steps assume that you are starting with technical knowledge but nothing more.
1. Write down all of the keywords related to the idea.
2. Write down the functional aspects of the idea.
3. Do the most obvious search: plug in a few keywords in the “Title” field of the advanced search window for Espacenet.
Review the returned documents that are most interesting for:
• Additional keywords
• Assignees (typically companies that own the patent)
• Inventors names
• If one of the assignees (companies) listed looks highly relevant to your idea, look up the company in Google to find out if they focus on that topic. If so, do a patent search for the company name (and nothing else) to find out what other patents or applications they have in this area. If the company has a lot of I.P. that is not all relevant, you may need to search for the company name plus a few added keywords.
• Refine your search based upon the new information keeping track of what you found most relevant. Repeat.
• Many patents and applications will be hard to find as they will be masked by a large number of other publications.
If you don’t have time for this level of research, give Pearson Strategy Group a call and we will handle everything.