FAQ – Patent Screening Search

Q: What is a patent screening search?

A: It is a type of patent search that is intended to find published patent applications and registrations in the records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that have similar characteristics to an invention.

Q: Why do a patent screening search?

A: Typically, a patent screening search is performed in the initial stages of developing a business around an invention. The patent screening search is a cost-effective search that gives one a better understanding of the likelihood that the invention may be protected under US Patent laws and also provides a cross-section of similar patent publications. Patent screening searches are estimated to be about 85% effective in discovering relevant references and are a fraction of the cost of more extensive searches..

Q: My patent results do not include an opinion, why?

A: Any written statements about an invention can potentially be used against the inventor or owner of a patent. Therefore, an appropriate level of care, effort, and research should be made before making any statements about an invention. This is especially true with statements about its patentability. Therefore, it is our practice to wait until a screening search is completed before even discussing preparing a written opinion.

Q: How much does an opinion cost and how do I know if I need one?

A: Written patent screening opinions generally cost twice what the search cost. Opinions are often used to help third parties understand the results of the search. Investors, strategic partners, licensors are often attracted to a positive opinion. Also, a positive opinion can be beneficial in increasing your bargaining strength when selling a company that owns an invention.

Q: What other kinds of patent searches are there, what do they cost and what do they do?

A: There are many kinds of searches. Each search may be performed with or without a formal written opinion. The following are some examples: Patentability Search ($2,000+ billed hourly) – more extensive search of patent and non-patent publications.

Clearance Search ($3,000+ billed hourly) – search of registered US Patents currently in force to discover patents that a particular technology might be infringing

Landscape Search ($1,500+ billed hourly) – search of patent publications related to a particular technology, competitor, and/or market segment to determine who the key players are and spot technology trends

Validity Search ($5,000+ billed hourly) – an extensive search of publications published before a particular patent registration and intended to discover any references that relate to its validity that may have been overlooked or undiscovered during the patent process

Q: What should I do with the results of my patent screening search?

A: Be sure to store the results in a safe and secure place where you can reference them again as needed. The results are confidential and attorney-client privileged materials, so you should not show them to others without an understanding of confidentiality. You should review the results to the level of detail you feel is appropriate and should discuss the results by phone or in person with your attorney. We recommend that you not put your opinion about the results in an email or letter to anyone.

Q: What is next?

A: The patent screening search is intended to give you more information so that you can make the following decisions: 1) Would a more extensive search be appropriate? 2) Would a formal written opinion based on the search results be valuable to you? 3) Should you invest in filing a patent application to protect the technology from companies who would copy the idea? As you make those decisions, you move forward in the process to protect the technology and the opportunities. Be sure to involve your attorney in your decision-making process so you can leverage that expertise.


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