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The Top Ten Tips For Carrying Out A Better Prior Art Search

Before filing for a patent it’s worth carrying out a search to see if the invention is new and inventive over what is already known worldwide (the prior art).  This can help determine whether the patent application is likely to be successful and provide useful information for drafting the patent application.

To improve your prior art searching read our Top Ten Tips below:

1. Work out the key features of your invention (the essential features to make it work) as these will be the features you will need to search for.

2. Consider all the likely areas of prior art to search.  It may be obvious to search patents but where else?  Inventions may be in non-patent literature e.g. research papers, books, company publications and adverts, youtube videos, google images, etc.

3. For patent searching, search worldwide, do not try to limit territories/countries as this can miss the best patent/s (e.g. the best patent may be a Korean patent).

4. When searching patents, start off by putting in the minimum “bang-on” keywords first and only add further keywords if you are getting too many results, searching the title and or abstracts as this can sometimes hit the best patent. Then try alternative keywords.


5. Determine the best patent classes from the patent results in (3) above. Once you have these patent classes try combining them with and without keywords in title/abstract.  When combining classes with keywords, only use keywords that are not used in the class description/s.

6. Once you have exhausted title/abstract patent searching, try full text searching with and without patent classes.

7. Good patent results can lead to better patent results by checking the assignees/inventors on them to see if they have filed any other closer patents.

8. Good patent results can lead to better patent results by checking their forward and backward citations.

9. Be careful searching online, outside of patents and research paper databases. For example, searching on google can give away your invention to competitors if you visit their website from the results of a search.  Best to limit the keywords you use.

10. If your invention is partly knocked out by the prior art you have found then determine the bit that is not disclosed in them and then search for this.

Using the above tips is a good starting point for carrying out an effective prior art search.  This is a basic introduction to the complicated world of prior art searching.

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