Legal Patent Search

The first and most crucial step of the patent application and approval process is conducting a legal patent search. A US-registered patent attorney will immediately suggest this and spearhead the search process when you confide in them about your idea. Non-law firm patent companies may try to convince you that this is an unnecessary step, but at Volta Law Group, we can assure you that this isn’t good advice.

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USPTO Patent Search

Without conducting a thorough legal patent search and receiving the patent search report, it’s possible that marketing your idea could leave you even more vulnerable to intellectual property theft, or you could lose patent eligibility altogether if someone already holds the patent for the idea.

Patent Search Report

Once you share your idea or invention with your attorney, they will conduct a USPTO patent search. Part of the patent approval process is defining your invention as novel and non-obvious.

After you conduct a legal patent search, you will receive a patent search report. If you have big plans for your idea or invention, you must be extra thorough and cross-check international patents as well as US patents. A thorough patent search report will include a full list of relevant and similar patents that already exist. It’s highly unlikely that a patent search report will return no results.

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Even if your legal patent search comes back with similar inventions, don’t immediately assume that your invention is ineligible for a patent. A patent examiner or a U.S.-registered patent attorney will be able to explain the relevant patents and how that may affect your patent eligibility moving forward. It’s important to note that even improvements to other existing designs can qualify for a new patent, as long as the improvement is considered non-obvious.

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Find a Patent

The USPTO Public Search Facility is free, and there are many other online free resources available at the beginning stages of your patent search process. It’s not a bad idea to conduct a preliminary legal patent search on your own. Still, retaining a US-registered patent attorney will provide more thorough patent search report results, explanations, and advice to set you on the right path to getting your patent approved, and understanding the nuances of the process.

Argue for Patent Approval

As attorneys, we know the importance of forming a strong argument and presenting it on behalf of our patent clients. Believe it or not, most patent applications are initially rejected. The biggest reason for this is often cited as “non-obvious” based on prior art references.

If this happens to you, it’s important that you don’t consider this the end of the road. Your attorney will be able to argue on your behalf to the patent examiner. The argument must prove that prior art references do not imply the same function or design of your invention and that it is novel on the basis that other people haven’t already claimed the invention. Ultimately, the test to determine obviousness begs the question, “Could an ordinary person arrive at this conclusion?” If that’s the case, then the invention may be ineligible for patent protection.

Patent Pending Status

While you don’t need patent protection to release your idea to the public, publicly disclosing your idea can affect your patent eligibility in the future. For this reason, it’s imperative that you apply for a provisional patent or non-provisional patent before you intend to manufacture or distribute your invention.

After you have filed for a provisional patent and while you are awaiting final approval of your non-provisional patent, you can use the term “Patent Pending” on your product. Most applications have a status of pending between one and three years, but it can take as long as five years to receive patent approval. The Patent Pending process begins as soon as the USPTO receives your application.

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Patent Examiners

Patent examiners are on the federal side of the legal patent search process. After the USPTO receives your patent application, a patent examiner will complete a patent search report and share it with you. After this part of the process, you will better understand whether or not your invention is eligible for patent protection.

For more information about the patent application process and how to hire a lawyer to file a patent, contact our team today!

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