Hi, I'm John Rizvi, the patent professor, I often get the same questions from inventors regarding the patent search. One of the most common is whether or not an inventor can do the search themself. There is no law that requires an inventor to have a patent search done by an attorney. However, most inventors that conduct their own searches are doing what is known as a keyword search. A keyword search is a simple search that focuses on the use of certain words. There are risks associated with inventors conducting their own search, especially using key words. This is because there's so many alternative ways of describing an invention that a search based on certain words could miss the most relevant references. For example, what one person calls a hose will be referred to as a pipe by somebody else, and you would miss the most relevant patents in your search. Let's look at another example. Say your invention is a kite that goes in the dark and inexperienced searcher might do keyword searches on an online search engine like Google. They might search for patents having glow and kite in them. But what happens if the closest patent to their idea uses the word luminescent instead of glow? What if the closest patent has the term flying novelty toy instead of kite? In order to broaden and inventors rights, a patent attorney will often use abstract terms in a patent. This means that flying novelty toy could actually be a term in a patent for a kite. And if all you search for is the term kite you would miss the closest patent line so solely on a keyword search may result in you overlooking the closest references to your invention. When an attorney conducts a patent search, they do not rely on a keyword search. They go through the actual patent classifications at the patent office and look for patents in a relevant class or subclass. This is extremely time consuming considering that there are over 9 million granted patents. However, the higher accuracy and the peace of mind it brings is worth it. If you have questions about the patent search call me John Rizvi, the patent professor. Let me make patents easy for you.
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