If you plan to file a patent application, it is a good idea to conduct a search of patents previously granted, and also of printed publications to make sure that your idea has not already been patented or disclosed. With over 8 million patents already issued, such a search avoids the needless expense of funds for a patent application, if the search turns up prior patents that might preclude your invention from being issued a patent.

Once you apply for your patent, the first thing the Patent Office Examiner does is to perform a search of prior patents in the search room at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington. If similar inventions are found in the search, the Examiner can reject your patent application because of the prior art he finds. Consequently, you want to know what the Examiner is going to find before you go to the expense of time and money of filing your patent application.

Patent searching is a craft that takes a long time to master. Still, there can be advantages to initially conducting a preliminary patent search. The advantages and pitfalls are described in the following document.

Before you try to conduct a preliminary patent search, it would be very helpful to read the following article which outlines techniques that you can immediately put to use when you do your own patent search.


The Two Coffee Cup Search

When beginning a patent search, there is always a question, “How long should I continue searching?” Knowing that a patent search can continue on almost indefinitely, we’ve developed a concept called The Two Coffee Cup Search. The idea is to take two large cups of Starbucks coffee and continue searching as described in the Basic Patent Search Article (listed above) until you’ve finished both cups. By that time you should have prior art patents that are at least relevant to your invention. After all, as it says in Scripture, “there is nothing new under the sun.” That means totally new but there are always new variations of old ideas. If the new variations are not obvious to an individual skilled in the area of the invention, as discussed in detail in the Basic Patent Searching article listed above, they reach the status of a patentable idea worth protecting with a patent.


Howard M. Cohn & Associates has extensive and varied experience in all aspects of Intellectual Property law, with a unique specialty in patent and trademark preparation and prosecution. Schedule an appointment or call us at 800-613-1067.