Excerpt from “How To Turn Your Idea Into a Success Story”
To make sure that your idea is new follow these steps:
1. Find out whether a similar product is already for sale. Do a thorough search on the internet for anything similar to your invention. Most retail stores and catalogue retailers are now online, which makes your job a lot easier.
Once you are sure that there is nothing like your invention available for sale, you are not yet in the clear. Even though your invention may not be available in the shops, it may already have been thought of and exist as a patent.
2. Find out whether there are any patents which may prevent you from producing your invention.
Many inventions only make it to the patent stage. Nevertheless, once an invention has been filed with the patent office, the idea is no longer new. In this case, the same or a very similar invention will not be patentable. If the patent has lapsed, meaning that the renewal fees have not been paid, anyone is free to create and sell the invention.
If you find yourself in a situation where a lapsed patent is stopping you from patenting your idea, keep in mind that there are other forms of protection such as a registered trademark or a trade secret.
To search for related patents worldwide, go to Espacenet to start searching.
Once you start searching for patents worldwide, it is almost inevitable that something similar to your invention will show up. When you type in your search words in Espacenet, try to find everything that has a remote similarity to your invention. In fact, if you only find a few patents that are related to your invention, you probably haven’t searched widely enough. Try searching again with broader search terms until you get at least 10-15 patents related to your idea.
These patents you find in your search are known as prior art. Prior art does not stop you from patenting your idea, as long as your invention has that small detail which makes it unique and different to the other inventions. A patent attorney would be able to help you in determining whether your idea is new and patentable.
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