Are patent applications publicly available?
In such a competitive era of running business, inventors don’t need to be reminded to patent their ideas and protect them from infringement. By patenting your original idea, you will be exclusively holding the rights to commercialize the product and nobody can replicate the idea or copy it without your consent.
A lot of businesses and startups have heard about the importance of patenting their ideas and getting trademarks for their products but very few companies and individuals end up patenting their ideas. Although the tedious patenting process and high costs of making patent applications are part of the reason why companies and startups shy away from making the patent applications, lack of sufficient public information on the patented ideas is largely thought to be the main reason why people don’t patent their ideas.
Before thinking about patenting an idea, it is imperative to conduct thorough research to ascertain whether someone else has already beaten you to patenting a similar idea. It is important to research and ensure that by trying to patent the said idea, you are not infringing any patents from your competitors. This is where the problem arises, finding sufficient public information on patents can be quite tedious. This is why we have come up with this post to help startups and small businesses looking to patent their ideas to understand the process of researching patents.
So, are patents applications publicly available? Where can you make a patent application search? What should you do in case you discover that your idea is already patented? We sought the counsel of our CEO here at Patent Panda and Tony was more than willing to give us important tidbits on the matter. Here is what Tony had to say on the patent applications records;
Are patent applications publicly available?
Thanks to the Public Disclosure Patent Bargain, patent applicants are required to make information about their patented idea available to the public. The patent applicants are required to provide a vivid description of the invention to the level that one skilled in that domain can replicate the invention. As a result, the federal government will grant you a limited monopoly over your new idea or invention.
In the US, patent application is made available to be viewed by the public. By making the information readily available to the public, the federal government gives every innovator a chance to countercheck and ascertain that their new idea has not been explored and patented yet. The general rule of the thumb or rather the default rule is that patent applications are published a year and a half after the earliest filing.
Not all patent applications are available though
Sometimes, applicants make special requests for their patent applications not to be made public. In other cases, patent application might be subject to a government order and is required to be kept secret from the general public until the patents is awarded. If you try accessing information on such a patent, you will need to wait until the patent is certified before getting any information on the patent.
Considering the overwhelming number of patent applications that are made every month to the Patent’s Office, it can be very tedious to get information on the specific patent application that you are looking for. This is why the patent information is systematically categorized.
Where can you find patent application information?
There are very many platforms where patent information is made public. The most reliable sources are the Patent Office Search Tool and the Google Patent Search Tool. Some private companies offer premium services when it comes to getting information about patent applications but the two mentioned sources are the best and they are free.
If you want information about a certain application, here are some of the metrics that you can use to get the information on the patent application;
The patent applicant’s name
When providing information to the public, the patents are filed in the name of the inventor and if you know the name a competitor, you can search their names and see whether they have made a patent application.
Depending on the niche in which the invention falls under, there are patent numbers awarded to the applications and you can use the numbers to search for a given application. You simply need to search the number using the Patent Office Search Tool or even the Google Patent Search Tool and you will receive more information on the application.
The other way through which you can retrieve information on a given patent application, is by searching on the subject matter of the new idea or product. The patents are normally categorized according to the subject matter they address and this can help you filter out on the results.
If you are in Texas and are looking for more information on patent application, look no further than Patent Panda’s way. We are seasoned patent and trademark gurus, and we will offer the best legal counsel on how to approach filing patent applications. Give us a call and we will gladly be of service .