There are several types of searches of the patents, trade marks, and designs databases that can be carried out. The effectiveness of each of these is determined by time factors, search criteria and the completeness of the database records.
For patents, these include Freedom To Operate (FTO) searches, validity searches, name searches, and status watches. When searching through patent databases, standard patent applications that were filed less than 18 months before the date of the search are not available for public inspection in their entirety. Only the bibliographic details are available, but not the complete specification which describes and claims the invention.
are used to determine whether or not a product or a process is likely to infringe a patent. These searches can be useful early on in the research and development stages before a lot of time and money is invested in an invention.
(also called subject matter searches) are used to assess the likely prospects of a patent being granted for an invention and how strong any such patent may be, as well as to assess the validity of someone else’s other patent. These searches can be useful in the event that you are the target, or likely target, of allegations of infringement of that other patent.
are used to locate any patent applications or granted patents which are under a particular name, being either the name of an inventor, an applicant or a patent owner. These searches can be useful in keeping an eye on the patent filing activities of a known competitor.
are used to track the progress of a patent application and determine its outcome. These searches can be useful in revealing patent examination history and allowing you to decide if you want to oppose the grant of a patent on that application or request its re-examination.