How can I ensure that my product has not already been patented? 4 Answers as of December 02, 2010

I need help with a product that I think should be patented. I am in the business planning stages and I want to make a very specific marking tag for a very specific industry. My product is better designed than those out there, made of different materials, and of a different design. I have not been able to find anything similar to it, at least I do not think. How can I be sure?

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Kafantaris Law Group
Kafantaris Law Group | Theo Kafantaris
You can contact a patent attorney to conduct a patent search for you. These searches usually run about $500 and include all relevant art and a patentability opinion. In the alternative, you can discuss filing a utility patent with your patent attorney if he feels you have a good chance of receiving a patent.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/2/2010
Fish & Associates, PC
Fish & Associates, PC | Robert D. Fish
Two issues here: (1) patentability and (2) right to practice.

A patentability search is typically done before filing an application. That search compares your inventive concept against everything that is already known. Cost is $1500 and up depending on the difficulty of the search. Whether or not your idea is patentable is not determinative of right practice. In other words, you can be sued whether your product is patentable or not. To gain confidence that you won't be sued, you need to run a right to practice search.

A right to practice search compares your product or method against the claims of patents currently in force, and published patent applications. Cost there is is probably $5000 or so for an informal analysis, and $10,000 or more for a formal opinion.

Note that both patentability and right to practice searches are inherently incomplete. The most you can get is a level of confidence. First, it is impossible to search all sources, and second, most patent applications are not published until 18 months after the filing of their earliest claimed priority filing. Thus, there is a dark period in which someone else could have filed something significant, but during which you cannot gain access.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/29/2010
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
You can have a patent search done, both domestic and international, to determine if your invention has been patented. Our firm conducts patent searches both in the U.S. and abroad. For additional information as to the process and cost for conducting patent searches you may contact us for a free initial consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/24/2010
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
Hire someone to do a patent search - I suggest the Patent Providers - it should cost about $300.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/24/2010
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