Area of Law: Intellectual Property
Answer # 296
Before filing a Patent applicationRegion: Ontario Answer # 296
Conduct a preliminary search
Before you spend time and money filing an application for a patent, you may want to hire a registered patent agent or a patent search firm to conduct a preliminary search to determine if your invention, or one like it, has already been patented, or to see what other patents already exist.
Although no search is exhaustive, a preliminary search will help you decide if your invention is likely to be new and different enough from what others have done before to warrant a patent. If your invention is not new and non-obvious, you will not be able to receive a patent for it and you should not file an application.
When a preliminary search is not needed
In most cases, it is best to conduct a preliminary search. However, there are instances when you may not need to conduct a search. For example, if you are concerned that someone else will file an application for the same invention before you, then you may decide not to wait to conduct a search. You should discuss your situation with a lawyer or a registered patent agent. They can help you decide whether you should conduct a search and whether other inventions are too similar to yours to warrant a patent application.
How to conduct a search
Conducting a search is a very complicated and technical process. It is a good idea to hire a registered patent agent or a search firm to do a search for you. A lawyer or a search firm has the expertise needed to compare your invention to other inventions and determine whether your invention is likely to be new and different enough from what others have done to warrant protection.
For more information about the patent process, refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
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