Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Patent Searches II

Last week I explained why applicants need to get a novelty, or prior art, search before filing for a patent.  In fact, there are a lot of reasons to people order patent searches including legal actions, licensing, market research, and even personnel recruiting.  This week, I want to explore the types of patent searches that are available.

Novelty Search:  The novelty, or prior art, search is the most common search commissioned.  Its purpose is to determine if the inventive concept has been previously disclosed to the public (either through patents or other methods).  The point is to find inventions similar in concept to the invention that is being considered for patenting.

Validity Search:  A validity search is check of the novelty of an existing patent and claims at the time of the disclosure.  The purpose of a validity check is to confirm that the patent was properly issued.  Validity searches are used in legal actions to find evidence to support claims that a patent is not valid.  They can also be used as part of a company’s due diligence in licensing negotiations.

Infringement Search:  An infringement search is similar to a novelty search except that it is limited to patents that are currently in force.  The purpose of an infringement search is simply to confirm that an invention is does not infringe on existing patent rights.

Clearance Search:  This is also referred to as a Freedom to Operate Search.  This is usually done for a product that is going to be brought to market without patent protection.  The clearance search is used to confirm that either there are no enforceable patents or that product concept has been public knowledge long enough that there will not be any patent infringement issues with the product release.

State of the Art Search:  A state of the art search is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a collection of all patent and not patent references in a technical field.  It is mostly used by companies for strategic purposes such as the evaluation of a patent portfolio or to determine the technical direction of a design department.

Landscape Search:  A landscape search is similar to a state of the art search with a much broader scope.   The technical field searched will be broader, a history of the technical development through patented inventions will be included, and the results will be organized by technical concepts or inventing organization where appropriate.  Landscape searches are usually used for competitive intelligence to monitor the market, identify current and future competitors, track technical trends, and determine long range research and development directions.

Obviously, there is no single cost for a patent search.  The type of search and the type of invention play a large role in the cost of a search.  I can provide ballpark assumptions.  For simple mechanical inventions, the category most textile related inventions fall into, a novelty search can be had for $500 - $1000 while a landscape search will probably fall in the range of $4,000 to $10,000.  However, don’t let these costs scare you.  I have found that patent search companies are good about working within budgets so it is always worth contacting them about your specific project needs. 

As a final note, one obvious use of patent searches is for recruiting.  Not only are the names of the inventors included in the public record but by evaluating their patent you have also evaluated the quality of the inventor’s work.  For companies looking for experts in a field, patents can rather quickly generate a list of qualified candidates to contact.

 Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:

Article of apparel providing enhanced body position feedback:  Apparel designed with compressive sections in it.  The compressive sections are placed to provide feedback to an athlete for training purposes. Patent:  8677512. Inventor:  Nordstrom and Sokolowksi.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Surgical sleeve for glove retention:  A protective garment (surgical gown) with a high friction surface coating at the cuff to hold gloves in place.  Patent:  8677513.  Inventor:  Mathis,  Assignee:  Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.

Finger splaying glove:  A glove designed to hold the fingers apart.  Intended to provide relief for carpal tunnel suffers.  Patents:  8677514.  Inventor:  Jones.  Not Assigned.

Tanning process and tanning composition:  A non-metallic chemical for tanning leather consisting of aniline attached to a benzene type ring with halogens attached at 3,5 and nitrogen substituted  for carbon in the 2,4,6 positions.   Patent 8679195.  Inventors:  Gamarino and Reineking.  Assignee:  Clarient Finance (Bvi) Limited. 

Non metal tanning:  Associated with Patent 8679195.  These are additional amine based chemicals that can be used for tanning leather.  Patent: 8679196.  Inventor: Reineking,  Assignee:  Clarient Finance (Bvi) Limited.

Conformal particle coatings on fibrous materials:  Methods for uniform deposition of particles on curved surfaces such as fibers. Particles are deposited onto the material via electrostatic interaction between charge modified fiber surfaces and oppositely charged particles or metal ions. Particles can be directly assembled onto a surface of a fibrous material by controlling hydrogen bonding interactions between interfaces of fibers and functionalized particles. Metal particles can also be deposited by in situ synthesis. A method is also provided for layer-by-layer deposition of particles over a fibrous material.  Patent:  8679197. Inventor:  Hinestroza and Dong.  Assignee:  Cornell University.

Formulations of fluorescent whitening agents in dispersed form:  An aqueous dispersion comprising a fluorescent whitening agent, a dispersing agent, (c) a β-1,3-glucan and an optional vat dye for whitening synthetic fibers, especially polyester and polyacrylonitrile.  Patent:  8679199.  Inventor:  Gruetter.  Assignee:  Huntsman International LLC.

Waterproof footwear and process for its manufacture:  A method for making a joint in waterproof footwear to join the upper and lower of the shoe.  Patent:  8677539.  Inventor:  Morlacchi and Ostani.  Assignee:  Outdry Technologies Corporation.

Shoe having an inflatable bladder:  A shoe with inflatable bladders and an under shoe method for inflating the bladders (including inflatable laces).    Patent 8677652Inventor:  Marvin.  Assignee:  Reebok International Ltd.

Interchangeable insert system for footwear:  A shoe configured to have interchangeable inserts.  Patent: 8677653.  Inventor:  Avar,  Assignee:  Nike Inc.

Jim Carson is a principal of RB Consulting, Inc. and a registered patent agent.  He has over 30 years of experience across multiple industries including the biotechnology, textile, computer, telecommunications, and energy sectors.  RB Consulting, Inc. specializes in providing management, prototyping, and regulatory services to small and start-up businesses.  He can be reached via email at or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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