A patent is all about protection for your intellectual property. The United States provides patents to give inventors the right “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling their invention throughout the United States or importing their invention into the United States.”
Every country can grant a patent which would govern that property in that country. It is conceivable that a patent granted in the U.S. or Canada doesn’t necessarily offer protection against infringement in a country like China or Russia.
Still, it is advisable for a business that has a piece of intellectual property to have it patented in as many countries as possible.
Google has created a patent search which is becoming a huge asset to many businesses. When you consider that there are 8 million approved patents and 3 million pending patent applications in the U.S. alone then you can see the need for a search engine. Now Google has put that database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office online for easy access. How can this help you protect your intellectual property? Consider these benefits:
Clearing the Field
The first obvious benefit of a Google patent search is to see if somebody beat you to the punch. In other words, has your brilliant idea already been developed? This is a search that really should be conducted once the plans for an item are ready to go to the prototype stage. If you find that your idea has been patented you’ll either have to rethink it entirely or scrape the project. Better to learn that in the early stages of development.
Suppose you’re in the kind of business that needs to create a machine to make the perfect widget. You’re really selling the widget but it has to be mass produced to be cost effective. That special machine you design to make the widget could be patented. However, you might find that another business has a similar machine you can adapt. There’s no need to go down the expensive patent review process when you can license the right to use that technology from the original patent holder. Remember, you want to get to your “widget” and the most affordable and stress free path to that goal is the way to go.
There aren’t a lot of secrets when it comes to granting a patent. If you’re working through a challenging design you might do a patent search for similar products to see how other inventors overcame their hurdles. Who knows? You could be inspired to take your idea in a new direction that no one has thought of.
It could be that you’re so impressed with a particular product or piece of intellectual property that you want to know more about the originator of that idea. The patent search will let you trace the inventor and find out what other ideas they’ve worked on.