If you conclude that you don’t want to do your own patent searching or that you want your findings checked professionally – we’d certainly recommend using professionals from the start if you can afford it – your options include using:
- A patent attorney. Find one from your phone directory or via the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (www.cipa.org.uk). Fees vary according to the type of search you need.
- The Intellectual Property Office’s Search and Advisory Service. Options and costs vary.
- The British Library’s search services. Options and costs vary.
- The search services of one of the Patlib UK network of specialist patent libraries. Options and costs vary.
- Our own invention assessment service, which includes a patent search. Fixed fee.
- Online search services offered by local libraries, universities and business advice centres – too many to list – often at very
low cost. Many of these will however simply be Espacenet or other database searches performed with varying degrees of skill. Such a search may be a bargain if it turns up indisputable prior art, but be cautious about accepting a ‘nothing found’ report as gospel.
It should be possible to find something you can comfortably afford. Costs can often be reduced if you do at least some of the groundwork yourself - for example by preparing a clear description of your idea and a list of possible keywords. Search cost shouldn’t however be the sole factor. The real skill in patent searching lies in interpreting the findings, and this may be difficult for a novice. A professional search and opinion may cost more initially but may be better value in the long run.