What is Invalidity Search?

A patent invalidity search is, basically, a search to validate a patent’s claims or to invalidate the claims of a competitor’s patent. 

This search is one of the first and major steps to be taken when you are confronted with patent infringement.

A Patent grant does not guarantee validity. That is so because there is always a possibility that some ‘unfounded’ prior-art could potentially invalidate the patent. An invalidity search or opposition search helps to identify such patent and non-patent documents impacting the claims of a specific patent.

This helps to block patents to counter an infringement suit or establish solidity of a patent portfolio. This is useful for licensing or company acquisition.

The prior-art is anything  available to the public, anywhere in the world when it comes to challenge validity of a patent. This ‘prior-art’ is of any date earlier to the filing date of the application that claims the invention.

The Invalidity Search locates any prior-art that the USPTO examiner missed. Thus, it is important to invalidate a patent.
Also, a patent invalidity search  is different from prior-art search. It does not include your idea/invention as a part of the search, which prior-art does.

When is it Required to Conduct an Invalidity Search?

You should go for Invalidity Search in the following cases:

  • When someone sues you for patent infringement or you receive a patent infringement warning.
  • This search becomes necessary if you find a patent which your product might infringe. You may find these patents through Freedom to Operate search or Patent Watching services.
  • When you plan for patent enforcement and sue or send a warning to your competitor. (In this case, the search is a validity search for your patent).
  • When you prove value of your patent portfolio before the licensing agreement becomes important.

Invalidity searches is extremely tedious and time consuming. It is generally enough to initially review patent documents by titles, abstracts, indexing, and figures in other patent searches. However with invalidity searches, it becomes imperative to evaluate and characterize details of any prior-art document. These prior-art documents are the ones that seem relevant to the patents/claims for invalidation.

Many-a-times, you cant find a relevant prior-art quickly and this could drag on the search. It occurs, only, occasionally that the tedious evaluation process leads to relevant findings. These findings are used for invalidating the patent. Thus, a thorough ‘invalidity search’ becomes unavoidable. 

Some General Queries regarding The Invalidity Search:

What is Invalidity Search?

The main aim is to search for prior art, competitors. The inventors do it to check if the patent is valid or not. They dive deep into the database and check for skipped patents during the search. Also, it helps to prepare against a lawsuit related infringements.

What makes Patent Invalid?

A patent is considered invalid if the claims of an invention are not novel. The Invalidity search compares the claims with the prior art and finds the similarities. Also, a patent is considered invalid in case of any similarity.

What is the Validity of Patents?

Validity depends on the type of patents. For instance, According to USPTO, Utility patents are valid for 20 years from the filing date.

Can Patent Validity be extended?

Yes, You can extend the patent Validity but only for a limited time. You can extent it for a maximum of 5 years.

How to know if an Idea exists in the Market?

One needs market research to know if an idea already exists or not. Firms/inventors go through a lot of patents and non-patent literature. You must go through google search patents, journals, research papers. Also, do market analysis by asking potential customers if they have seen a similar product or not.

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