Non-Standard Patent Searches: Exploring Product Identification and Patent Identification Searches


Director of Patent Searches & analytics

Non-Standard Patent Searches: Exploring Product Identification and Patent Identification Searches

Traditionally, patent searches focus on identifying prior art to help determine patentability, infringement, freedom to operate and the like. However, there are instances where non-standard patent searches are necessary. These include product identification searches, which aim to determine if a product based on a known patent exists, and patent identification searches, which seek to ascertain if a patent protects a known product. In this article, we will discuss these non-standard patent searches, including relevant databases, strategies, and the scenarios that necessitate their use.

Product Identification Searches

Product identification searches are conducted when a specific patent is known, but it is uncertain whether a corresponding product has been brought to market. These searches are useful in scenarios where individuals or businesses want to assess the commercialization potential of a patented technology or evaluate the market landscape for specific inventions.  

For instance, companies or investors may want to determine the market potential of a patented technology before investing in its development or licensing. Entrepreneurs and startups may conduct product identification searches to evaluate the feasibility and uniqueness of their product ideas. Knowing if similar products are in the market refines their strategy and improves market positioning.  Product identification searches also provide valuable insights into existing competition or potential partners.

Utilizing product databases such as e-commerce platforms, industry-specific catalogs and online marketplaces can aid in identifying products associated with a known patent. Platforms like Amazon, Alibaba, and Google Shopping provide valuable insights into the availability and commercialization status of patented technologies.

Patent databases can be used to glean information such as relevant variant company names and inventor names, including owners and assignees who are associated with the patent that might also be associated with the product.  Similarly, descriptive terms can be taken from the patent document, since comparable language might be used in other databases when describing the product.

Reverse image searches can be employed to identify products visually similar to the patented technology. By using images or drawings from the patent documents, one can compare them to existing products available online.  There are a number of free and subscription based image search engines available online for this purpose.

Finally, engaging with online forums, communities, and industry-specific platforms can provide valuable insights and discussions about products associated with specific patents. Depending on the technology, professionals, enthusiasts, or inventors may have online groups where they discuss the availability or commercialization of patented products.

Patent Identification Searches

Patent identification searches, on the other hand, are conducted when a product is known, but it is uncertain whether a patent exists that protects the product. These searches are performed in cases where individuals or businesses want to evaluate potential legal risks, identify possible infringement claims, or assess the need for patent protection for their own products.

As opposed to its sister search, the freedom to operate, which focuses on determining infringement risks for the company’s own products, the patent identification search is directed at a competitor’s product.  The results will assist the company in determining whether developing a product similar to one on the market will infringe an in force patent.

Accessing patent databases, both subscription based and free, are critical to help identify patents associated with a specific product. By searching product descriptions or using reverse engineering techniques, relevant patents can be found.

Additionally, legal databases contain court decisions, legal opinions, and case law related to patent infringement cases. These databases can aid in identifying patents that have been asserted or litigated for similar products.

Thoroughly analyzing the product’s features, functions, and technical aspects can provide valuable information for patent identification searches. This involves dissecting and examining a product to understand its construction, components, and operational principles.  By understanding the unique aspects of the product, its underlying technology and any innovative features and analyzing these key elements, one can conduct more targeted searches in patent databases using relevant keywords and technical terms.

Other strategies for identifying the existence of a patent is to make use of patent classification codes.  Each patent is assigned specific classification codes that categorize the technology it encompasses. By identifying the relevant classification codes associated with the known product, one can search patent databases using these codes to find patents that may protect similar technologies.

Searching for patents filed by the inventors or assignees associated with the known product can be fruitful. This approach can uncover related patents that may protect aspects of the product or similar technologies.

Moreover, keeping abreast of industry trends, emerging technologies, and research publications can be useful for patent identification searches. Monitoring scientific literature, academic research, and technical conferences can help identify patents that protect cutting-edge technologies related to the known product.

Utilizing a combination of these strategies can enhance the effectiveness of patent identification searches, enabling individuals and businesses to identify relevant patents that may impact their products or inventions.

Always keep in mind that consulting with intellectual property professionals or patent attorneys can provide further guidance and expertise in conducting these searches effectively.

To conclude, non-standard patent searches, such as product identification searches and patent identification searches, provide valuable insights into the relationship between patents and products.  By utilizing appropriate databases and employing various search strategies, stakeholders can make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and navigate the complex world of intellectual property.

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