IP Search

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We partner with a very small number of proven Intellectual Property Specialists to support our clients in protecting their innovations. Vicki from Strachan IP has helpfully written this section of our website to help you understand more about IP searching.

At Strachan IP, we endeavour to provide an ‘immersive’, rather than purely transactional, service. This means that we like to get to know you, your business and your commercial aspirations right from the start, so that we can start working closely with your product designer at key stages during the product development process, help them (and you) locate the key USPs of your new product, and tailor our advice and service to exactly meet the needs of your business to help it thrive.

Our Process

Initial Meeting and Information Collection

The first step towards having a patentability search performed, is to set up an initial consultation with us. This meeting is free of charge and obligation, and is held in the strictest of confidence whether you ever become a paying client or not.

This would allow us to have an in-depth discussion about your new product, where you are in the product development process, what you think the main USPs of your new product might be (i.e. why will people want to buy it?), your proposed route to market (i.e. will you manufacture and sell the product yourself, do you want to license it to someone else, etc…?), and often also how the project is being funded (e.g. private investment, crowdfunding campaign, government grants, R&D tax credits, etc).

If, together, we decide that a patentability search would benefit your business, we would also discuss when the right time would be to have the search performed. If that is NOW, then we would ask for some sort of write-up or description of the product, to the extent that you can provide that. Often D2M’s latest concept document is sufficient for our purposes at this stage.

Drafting a Search Statement

We would then use that write-up or document to draft an appropriate search statement, defining exactly what it is we want the searchers to search for. In this, we try to include an image to help the searchers understand what you’re trying to achieve, and briefly explain the invention, including what we think the key elements are (and elements that might be less important, commercially). We then instruct the searchers to perform the search, based on the search statement. It usually takes a week or two for the results to be returned. It is worth noting that the relationship between us and our professional searchers is strictly confidential.

Analysing and Reporting the Search Results with our Opinion

When we receive the search results back from the searchers, we analyse the results, and report them to you, highlighting the most relevant documents found (with links to the relevant documents where appropriate, so you can read them for yourself), and our opinion, based on the search results, as to the patentability of your new product, and what we can expect if you decide to proceed and file a patent application. You can, if you wish, share this report and the search results with your product designer, to help and guide them as well, as mentioned above.

Informed Patentability

Conducting a patent search allows you to assess the patentability of your invention thoroughly. By identifying existing patents and technical solutions, you gain insights into potential obstacles and opportunities for patenting your innovation. This informed approach helps you navigate the patent landscape effectively and strategize the development of your new product.

Efficient Innovation

A patent search helps you avoid redundant efforts by uncovering existing solutions to technical challenges. By leveraging prior art, you can streamline your product development process, saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent reinventing solutions already available in the public domain. This efficiency promotes agile innovation and accelerates time-to-market for your new product.

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Risk Mitigation and Competitive Insight

Beyond patentability, a comprehensive patent search offers valuable insights into competitor activities and market dynamics. By understanding the patent landscape and main competitors in your field, you can mitigate the risk of infringement and make informed decisions about product design and market positioning. This competitive intelligence empowers you to navigate the market landscape confidently and capitalize on strategic opportunities for growth.

Vicki Strachan is the most outstanding, transparent Patent Attorney, and she has guided me  in the complex world of IP and supported SnapWatch with our intellectual property for over 10 years.
/5
Vincent Douglas, Founder and CEO of high tech start-up company, Snapwatch Ltd

FAQs

What is a patentability search?

A patentability search is a search performed in relation to published patent documents and (optionally) non patent literature, with a view to determining what, if anything, might be patentable about your own new product.  We can then decide if that/those feature(s) are sufficiently relevant to the envisaged USP of your product, and decide from there whether or not to file a patent application to protect your interests and market share.

This can vary, depending on what technology we’re looking at and the breadth of the search, but you can expect to pay somewhere around £1000 exc VAT, which is inclusive of the drafting of the search statement, the professional searchers’ fee and our own fee for subsequently analysing and reporting the search results, and providing our advice as to the patentability of your new product.

  • It can help to determine whether or not you are likely to be able to secure a patent for your new product.
  • It can save your product designer from ‘reinventing the wheel’
  • It can, in some cases, help you to avoid knowingly infringing someone else’s patent rights.
  • It can help you and your product designer to decide which avenue to take, if there are several options available to achieve the same functionality.
  • It can help you to identify your main competitors within your chosen sector, and make further enquiries/investigations to help you to plan your commercial journey.

Conducting a patent search in the UK through professional services typically costs between £1000 and £20,000, depending on the complexity of the invention and the depth of the search required. Most of our clients start with a search for around £1000 to give an idea of the existing patent landscape and only consider more thorough (and therefore expensive) searches if they are backed by significant investors with a low appetite for risk.

Specialised search firms may charge less than patent attorneys for comprehensive searches that include detailed reports and analytics but don’t include advice as they are not insured to provide this. Any professional searches offers reliability and detailed insights, helping to ensure thoroughness in the patentability evaluation and minimising the risk of costly legal issues later.

Conducting a patent search in the UK through professional services typically costs between £1000 and £20,000, depending on the complexity of the invention and the depth of the search required. Most of our clients start with a search for around £1000 to give an idea of the existing patent landscape and only consider more thorough (and therefore expensive) searches if they are backed by significant investors with a low appetite for risk.

Specialised search firms may charge less than patent attorneys for comprehensive searches that include detailed reports and analytics but don’t include advice as they are not insured to provide this. Any professional searches offers reliability and detailed insights, helping to ensure thoroughness in the patentability evaluation and minimising the risk of costly legal issues later.

Overview of IP Search

What exactly is IP

Intellectual Property (IP) is the term given to a set of legal rights that allow you (as their owner) to stop others from copying your innovation and muscling in on your revenue stream, There are lots of different types of IP, registered and unregistered, such as patents, registered designs, registered trade marks, unregistered design rights, copyright, database rights, and even know-hoe and trade secrets.  The real ‘magic, is knowing how to put together the right set of IP rights for your business and use them to ensure your innovative product or service is properly protected.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a piece of registered intellectual property (IP) that protects technical innovation.  If you have a patent for your product, process or system (or part of it), you can stop your competitors from using the same technical innovation for up to twenty years.

To be patentable, the technical innovation must include at least one novel feature, and that novel technical feature must represent a so-called “inventive step”, i.e. it must be something more than a simple workshop modification of what is already known.

However, it does not need to be an enormous scientific breakthrough or a piece of disruptive technology.  In fact, taking terminology directly from the case law on the subject of inventiveness, a “scintilla” of inventiveness can be sufficient for an invention to be patentable, and part of the invention can even lie in the identification of the problem it purports to solve, even if the solution could then be said to be “obvious”.  So, it is important not to dismiss something as “obvious” and, therefore, not patentable, before this has been properly assessed.  If your product or process has at least one novel technical feature, and that technical novelty is important in some way to your USP, then it is worth exploring whether or not patent protection would be the best way to protect it.

How is Novelty and Inventive Step Assessed?

Novelty and Inventive Step, i.e. the patentability of your new product (or certain key aspects of it) is assessed against anything that has been made available to the public, anywhere in the world, ever.  So, just because an internet search does not reveal a product with the same or similar principles as yours does not necessarily mean that your product is patentable.  For example, similar products may have been made available for sale before and subsequently taken down, and there are literally millions of published patent applications in existence for products that never made it to market for whatever reason.

This is one of the main reasons why we often recommend having a formal ‘patentability search’ performed in relation to your new product, before offering advice as to whether or not it is (or could be) patentable.  Whilst there is a cost involved, it is much lower than that for having a patent application drafted and filed by a Chartered Patent Attorney; and, if it locates a document or disclosure that would severely impact the likelihood of securing patent protection for your product, it could save you the cost of misguidedly filing a patent application that will ultimately fail or offer no discernible value to your business.

And that is not its only benefit…..but first let’s look at:

What is a patentability search?

A patentability search is a search, performed by professional searchers, of comprehensive databases of published patent documents and (optionally) non patent literature (e.g. live and archived web pages, academic papers, news articles, etc.)) worldwide.  The search results are then analysed and the most relevant documents identified.  We then analyse those documents further and provide an opinion on the patentability of your own invention.

Here’s why this service can be crucial for your project:

  1. As mentioned above, it can determine what, if anything, we could focus a patent application around to best protect the USP(s) of your new product, i.e. to determine the patentability of your new product.
  2. It can help to guide your product designer in terms of possible ways of solving particular problems within the field, to save them ‘reinventing the wheel’ on your budget.
  3. It might also help to guide you and your product designer as to what you can and can’t do, so that you can avoid knowingly infringing someone else’s live patent and use anything that might be mentioned in a patent or patent application that is no longer live (for whatever reason).
  4. If you have multiple options for solving a particular problem, it may help to guide your and your product designer as to which avenue to take.
  5. It can give you a better understanding of your main competitors within this field, and the field they may be concentrating their efforts on.
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