Do you have a new invention? Do any similar ideas exist? Be sure to find out before proceeding with a patent application, by conducting a pre-application patent search.


In order for an invention to be patentable, one important criterion is that the invention is novel, that is, it is new. One way in which to establish whether your invention has the required novelty is to conduct a patent search.


Completing a patent search or pre-application patent search is a sensible starting point as not only will it allow you to determine whether your invention is known, it will also allow you to determine whether your invention has already been protected. This latter point is important, particularly in terms of infringement.



An effective and low-cost way to carry out a search, at least initially, is to conduct a search yourself. This is a useful starting point, and is something we would recommend you do.


An initial patent search can range from simple Google searching, through to the use of specific patent databases, such as Espacenet.


Espacenet, which is administrated by the European Patent Office, is a free online worldwide database and can be used for searching published patent applications and patents alike.


In our two-part article on ‘How To Do Your Own Free Patent Search’, we look at how to conduct your own search and provide tips and guidance on completing a search.


In How To Do Your Own Free Patent Search – Part 1, we provide a general overview of conducting a patent search. For the beginner, this is an excellent place to start.


How To Do Your Own Free Patent Search – Part 2, considers patent searching in more detail, and focuses on conducting a patent search by patent classification.



Having conducted a patent search of your own, you may also wish to consider instructing a professional search. We have a number of professional patent search packages that we offer and would be happy to discuss these options with you, to match the most suitable search package to your project.


Our search packages include bronze, silver and gold – as set out below:


Bronze patent search – cost-effective option, but thorough due-dilligence search. Includes a written summary prepared by one of our attorneys, and utilises commercial databases.


Silver patent search – an exceptionally thorough option that includes full-text searching in multiple commercial patent databases. Multiple searchers work together to complete this search, ensuring that the problem is approached from a variety of different angles.


Gold patent search – our highest level search ensuring comprehensive results. Recommended if budget is not an issue! Includes silver search options plus citation checks, inventor/assignee checks and small class searching.


An important point to remember is that no search is ever completely comprehensive, but searching is a good way to ascertain whether anything similar to your invention exists.