Invalidation & Validation Patent Search

Patent “invalidity” / “validity searches are conducted to either validate the claims made by the applicant in a patent application or to invalidate one or more claims of a competitor’s patent. These searches are identical in nature except for the desired outcomes.

Patent offices around the world sometimes make mistakes in granting a patent by overlooking “prior art”.  An invalidity search will determine whether or not an existing patent was granted correctly. This is a way to double check if the patent examiner overlooked any important information before granting a patent. The search delves deep into patent databases, scientific journals, catalogues, brochures and the internet to uncover any of the information that relates to the invention in question. If the invention has been described in any other document before the application was made for the patent for that invention, it can be declared invalid. Normally IP clients seeking validity/invalidity searches fall under three categories:

  • The first situation happens when someone files a suit for infringement against your patent. In this situation, an invalidity search can help in proving the fact that the invention is novel.
  • The second situation may be when someone wants to strengthen their patent portfolio. The patent certificate along with the invalidity search showing that the patented invention is novel and non-obvious is the strong evidence for the novelty of the patented invention.
  • The third situation is when a person wants to diminish the patents of the competitor. This would allow that person to destroy the competition and use the patented invention without risk. For instance, if person A started a new business that sells a speaker, but unfortunately five years ago B got a patent for a speaker and A is afraid that B may try to block her right to sell the speaker. In this case, A can hire a practitioner to prove that B’s patent may not have been granted in the first place. If B’s patent can be invalidated A will be free to sell her speaker without the risk of violating any of the patents.

When confronted with patent infringement, proof of invalidity usually is the first line of defense.  It helps in saving precious time and money as patent litigation can be really expensive and it is a long-drawn process. It is the first step taken by the company when faced with a patent infringement lawsuit. So, an exhaustive prior art patent invalidity search is simply good business practice.

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