Creating a prototype of a design and then an actual invention represents months or years of hard work. It typically requires an investment of at least several thousand dollars as well. That’s why it makes sense for designers and entrepreneurs to conduct a UK patent search before getting too far along in the process. If inventors discover that someone else is already selling the exact product or a close replica, his or her product is not eligible to receive a non-provisional patent. To ensure absolute uniqueness, product designers should conduct a worldwide search in addition to one local to the UK.
Factors to Consider in the Patent Search Timeline
Most developers want to know the best time to conduct a patent search, but the reality is that no set timeline applies to everyone. It depends on personal preferences, the reason for the patent search, and other factors unique to the inventor. Some inventors conduct a patent search once they have developed an idea that they feel is worth protecting from duplication by others in the industry. Others start working on a prototype of the invention and then do a patent search before completing it. This protects him or her from financial loss in the event that someone already has the same product on the market.
The UK Intellectual Property Office will not grant a new patent to someone who makes only minor changes to an already existing product. It must be both useful and unique to a mass market. It’s important to note that the results of a worldwide or UK patent search include other applications as well as existing patents for similar products.
Reasons for Different Patent Search Timelines
Inventors who want to determine the current patent landscape should plan to conduct a search early in the process of creating their product prototype. Those in the inventing industry refer to this process as searching for white space. If the search does not return the same or similar results, most inventors continue with the process. At this stage, they spend considerable time determining if their existing idea is worth patenting.
Entrepreneurs have the option of applying to the Intellectual Property Office for a provisional patent while they continue to tweak their invention until it is marketable. The patent pending status protects the inventor from having his or her product duplicated prior to applying for a non-provisional patent. However, the office administering provisional patents does not actually review them at this stage.
Some people skip this part of the process due to the cost involved as well as not having a firm understanding of how it works. Inventors are free to conduct a patent search on their own using Internet search tools, getting help from a UK Patent Library, or hiring an attorney to assist them. Working with an experienced professional may be especially beneficial when the time comes to conduct a worldwide patent search.