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What is patent search?
Searching of the patent database to determine if there are any patent application similar or identical to an invention that is to be patented is known as “patent search”. This exercise of patent search improves the chances of obtaining a patent registration or to find information about new inventions that have patent protection.
The Indian Patent Advanced Search System (InPASS) is the Indian patent office database which is used to conduct an advanced patent search in India. Introduced on February 27th, 2015, InPASS is an updated version of IPAIRS [Indian Patent Information Retrieval System]. Earlier IPAIRS was utilized to conduct patent search in India. InPASS facilitates a full-text search of all Patent Applications and Indian patents. Additionally, InPASS also has provisions for an inventor/person to conduct a patent search using Boolean Operators or Wild Cards. Conducting a patent search is very important practice before filing a patent application.
Let us analyze various aspect of patent search system provided by Indian Patent Office. The following information will enable the readers to understand the outline of using the Indian patent (advanced) search system for conducting patent searches, checking the register details of patents granted, and also check the patent application status
What is the importance of patent search?
Before filing a patent application, a patent search can help with different objectives like:
- Determining the probability of having a patent granted to a proposed invention.
- Determining the claims to be filed in the patent application.
- Determining the freedom to operate.
- Determining whether a granted patent can be invalidated.
Why to conduct a patent search?
Filing a patent is an expensive process. The statutory fee for a basic patent filing can be in a range of INR.5,600 – INR.30,000. Apart from the official fees, a separate fee for patent attorney or agent must be considered. Spending money on a patent, to later find out that the invention was never patentable or it already exists! A comprehensive search avoids these kind of situations and help save resources.
Besides resources, following are few reasons for conducting a search before filing a patent application in India or globally.
- A patentability assessment can help an inventor/person understand whether your invention is patentable and if so, how far can it be protected. For example, computer programs are non-patentable subject matter, but computer programs that are manifested in a useful way can be patented.
- A patent comprehensive search reveals the prior art in an inventor/person’s field of invention. This information will be helpful while drafting the patent specification. The knowledge of prior art will help you determine if the invention has any value addition over the prior arts. This reduces the chances of rejection by the Patent Office.
- If the invention has no value addition then understanding the prior art will help an inventor/person to refine invention so as to make it patentable.
- The patent search can also reveal certain companies that are keen on obtaining patents in the field of technology relating to your invention. In such cases, it gives an inventor/person the lead on which companies to contact for licensing of your invention.
- Ordinarily, every Applicant wants his patent to become commercial and therefore a source of finances. A patent search not only reveals inventions similar to the invention but also the commercial value of the invention in the economy. Based on this you an inventor/person determine the commercial value of the invention.
- Another important reason for conducting a patent search is that while applying for a patent, the applicant needs to describe his entire invention. Even if applicant’s patent gets rejected, the corresponding patent application will be considered as a prior art, open for public domain. This illustrates that competitors can get free access to their hard work. A patent search can avoid such a scenario. Even if the invention is not patentable according to law, an inventor/person can use it as a trade secret and gain revenue.
Types of patent search
Following are the types of patent searches which can be done in the Indian Patent Advanced Search System (InPASS).
First, an individual will have to collect the keywords relevant to the corresponding invention or patent. The keyword search can be used in the search parameters – claims, abstract, title, and specification description. The patent search can be performed using the keywords along with ‘Wild Cards’ and/or ‘Boolean Operators’. The search results will be illustrated in two columns respectively. The left column comprises application number/patent number, title, application date and status will display. Based on the selection of a particular row in the left column, details [Bibliographic information, Specification, and Status of patent application/patent] of the patent application/granted patent will display in the right column. Also an individual can view the following details of Bibliographic data, patent specification, and application/patent status in a respective tab. But, there is a limitation of the number of search results displayed up to 1000 and 25 records per page.
In the ‘Patent Search’ tab, there are two check boxes provided those allow a person to search for either Granted patents or Published applications or both. The person can conduct search after selecting search for patents or patent applications published based on any one of the following search parameters:
- Invention title
- Publication Number
- Publication Date
- Publication Type
- Application Number
- Application Filing Date
- Priority Number
- Priority Country
- Priority Date
- Field of Invention
- Inventor Name, Address, Country, Nationality
- Applicant Name, Address, Country, Nationality
Applicant name search
The Indian patent search database allows a person to search for patent applications/patents by entering the name of the applicant against the relevant row. The person is supposed to just enter the Applicant’s name and press search. The results will illustrate the title of all inventions published or granted in the name that an individual entered.
Inventor name search
Similar to the applicant name search, an individual can also search the inventor name in the relevant row and the result display.
In addition to the above searches, you interested people can perform various search queries to retrieve the results based on their requirements. People can also read the ‘Help’ provided on the tab to learn more about how to use Boolean operators and Wild cards. People familiar with USPTO patent search or WIPO patent search, can easily conduct the patent search in India.
The Indian patent search database allows individuals to the check the legal status of the granted patent. In the ‘Patent E-register’ tab, enter the patent number along the displayed code and click to Show E-register. The result will display the legal status of the patent, date next renewal date, and Bibliographic data of patent.
Similar to patent grant search, the Indian patent search database allows to check the status of the patent application. In the ‘Application Status’ tab, an application number is entered along with the displayed code and click on ‘Show Application Status’. The results illustrate the details of a patent application in the following format i.e. application number, applicant reference number, date of filing, priority date (if any), title of the invention, publication date and status of patent application. Besides, all the documents relevant to the patent application can be viewed in the ‘View Documents’ tab provided at the bottom page of result.
Despite the fact that free patent database (InPASS) allows anybody to conduct a patent search in India, it is important that a person skilled in conducting searches be given the task. The reason being, patent searches involve tedious, repeated searching through various patent literature. An unskilled person would not be able to do justice to the vast number of results to be searched. Any skilled person knows and understands the importance of the claims of a patent. The claims of a patent are of the utmost importance when a similar patent to an inventor’s invention exists; in such a case, a person/inventor must analyze the patent claims to understand the degree of similarity between the patent applications/patents.
Furthermore, a skilled person would be able to build on the strength of patent or on refining your patent so that it does not infringe on other existing art. However, a non-skilled person may not comprehend these concepts and their importance.