As an investor assessing new innovations, uncovering any overlooked intellectual property (IP) assets is a key part of your due diligence. Conducting comprehensive patent searches provides insight into a startup’s existing IP rights and reveals gaps for potential new patent filings to strengthen the investment. Follow these tips when navigating the patent search process for IP investments.
Search Patent Beyond the Obvious:
Look beyond the core product IP a startup presents. Brainstorm peripheral technologies, subcomponents, features and functionality where additional patent opportunities may be uncovered with strategic searching.
Dig Through Global Databases:
Since patents are territorial, search beyond just the Canadian IP database. Thoroughly conduct international patent search using USPTO, WIPO, and ESPACENET records to get the full picture of existing and pending rights as well as prior art.
Master Advanced Search Techniques:
Employ Boolean operators like AND, OR and NOT when searching patent text and claims to find highly targeted results. For example, “microfluidics AND polymers NOT drug delivery” retrieves very specific matches. Refine keywords that yield irrelevant results.
Analyze Search Classifications:
Note the technology classifications your search results fall under. Then proactively search within those specific subclasses for additional relevant patents, even those that may not match the keywords. This turns up overlooked IP.
Study Claim Language:
Carefully analyze the claims defining each patent’s scope of protection. Subtle differences in claim wording can reveal infringement risks and opportunities for improvement patents. Focus searches directly on claims.
Set Up Ongoing Alerts:
Configure automatic alerts to flag any new patent applications containing your keywords. This allows continuous monitoring so you can spot competitive filings and prior art that may impact investment decisions.
Partner with Patent Counsel:
Work with qualified patent counsel to interpret search findings from an investability perspective. Their expertise will help devise new IP strategy and evaluate validity of existing rights.
Conducting comprehensive patent searches is a wise step for IP investors that pays dividends over time. Strengthening a startup’s patent portfolio enhances defensibility and value. With robust due diligence, you can invest strategically.
Explore the importance of conducting comprehensive patent searches for IP investors in our detailed guide on patent search techniques in Canada.