The first step in the patent application process should be the patent search as the patent search is used to help determine whether moving forward with the application is worth your time and expense.  The patent process can often be very expensive so you do not want to spend a lot of your time and money preparing and filing an application when it is simple to find prior art that might likely prevent a patent form issuing.  Patent searches can also give you a good idea if your patent may be patentable or not.  If it turns out that your patent is not patentable, you can move on to your next invention, which you probably have one.  Patent searches are also great learning tools because you are given the opportunity to discover which aspects of your invention most likely will contribute to patentability.  Therefore, you could focus more on those aspects in your patent application and focus less on the aspects which makes your invention less patentable.  This is why it is a good idea to pay for some kind of patent search.  It is important that you get an opinion or assessment provided by a patent attorney or patent agent.  You might only give a quick and cursory review of the patents that have been found and might miss a great opportunity to use the prior art that has been found to focus on what is unique and patentable about your invention. Some patent attorneys experience that the inventors will read the patent search report but do not read the patents.  It is important for you to focus on the patents that are the most relevant to your patent.  If you really take the time to read the key patents that are found in the search, you will be able to help decide about whether to move forward or not and then will be able to help contribute to the preparation of the patent application.  You will be able to help describe the invention as accurately and completely as possible.

           Also, determining how the prior art is similar and how it is different is important to be able to help decide whether to move forward with the patent application.  In order to make writing a patent application a much smoother and easier process it is important to include lots of detail.  The first application that is filed is very critical.  All aspects of your invention should be disclosed and nothing new should be added that won’t compromise the filing date. The initial disclosure can be specifically written to define and expand upon what are the key features and components to make it patentable.

           Doing a patent search and learning whatever you can makes sense so you don’t spend thousands of dollars on a patent application only to find out that a patent cannot be obtained.

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