Before investing heavily in research, development and/or branding of a new product, idea or concept, it is wise to carry out some searching to determine the current state of the art and whether the product, idea, concept or brand is in fact new and available for use or commercial exploitation in the market concerned.
A good, well-constructed search will save money in the long run as it will allow you to make intelligent, commercial decisions in relation to your innovation or brand and to go to the marketplace with confidence. It will also give both you and any potential partners, venture capitalists, subcontractors or suppliers, the confidence to make further investment in your innovation or brand. A search will often be one of the cornerstones of any due diligence protocol before an investment cycle can begin.
A search should be made before entering new markets and especially foreign markets, or before undertaking any new importing or exporting activity. Searching is not limited to those who are developing new products or ideas or brands; searching should also be undertaken by those that invest in new products, those wishing to license products, and by any individual or company that is serious about maintaining or increasing their market share.
One of the most important reasons for conducting a search is to scan the horizon to ensure that you will not be infringing someone else’s intellectual property rights before major financial investment has taken place.
A search will prevent you from wasting money on development of a product or idea, or on branding if you find out that the ability to obtain a monopoly on the product or idea, or exclusive use of the brand is not available, therefore allowing you to move on to fresh endeavours.
For new inventions, a patent search can be very helpful for providing valuable insight into the technology concerned as it will reveal similar solutions to a problem to be solved by the invention which will often provide further ideas for enhancing the invention or revealing additional possibilities where the invention might be used. To summarise, a patent search will provide a snapshot of the existing art that will help to:
- Determine whether a patent application should be filed;
- Provide a check on what others are doing in a particular technology field;
- Reveal who the relevant key players are in a technology field, including rivals, competitors and potential licensees;
- Give confidence that the user of the invention will not infringe others’ patent rights;
- Give confidence to prospective investors and venture capitalists;
- Reduce the risk of infringement when entering a marketplace, especially unfamiliar or foreign markets;
- Give indicators as to the likelihood of commercial success;
- Provide solutions to technical problems.