A patent search is always a good idea for many reasons including the following:
- the search may save the costs associated with filing a patent application if it turns out the development is not novel or inventive
- the "art" identified is likely to assist the attorney drafting the patent specification to better define the scope of the rights claimed
- the search may identify patents/applications that may cause infringement problems
Presuming that you do want to conduct a patent search, you need to consider whether you want to do some searching yourself or whether you need to have a professional search conducted.
In relation to patent novelty type searches (to answer the question is my development new and inventive) we encourage you to first conduct your own patent search before having a professional search conducted. However, if you do conduct your own patent search and that search does not identify any relevant art then you should still consider having a professional search conducted.
A professional patent subject matter search will generally be far more targeted, efficient and complex than a search you would conduct yourself. A professional patent novelty type search combines the professional searcher's knowledge and experience (e.g. of technical patent classification systems and patent databases) with powerful subscriber patent databases that have broad coverage and allow complex search strategies to be developed.
More generally, there may be other advantages to a professional search including the following:
a professional searcher should be aware of the limitations and coverage of the databases used; and
a professional searcher should be aware of the correct search syntax
a professional search should be covered by insurance (but always check this with your professional searcher that this is the case)
If you do want to conduct your own patent searching please read our post entitled Patent Searching 101 - How To Conduct My Own Patent Search.