It is well evident that corporate VCs take patents into consideration while funding. To give you an example, 88% of startups funded by Samsung Ventures and 86% funded by Johnson and Johnson have at least one patent in their portfolio.
Similarly many top Silicon Valley VCs like Khosla Ventures and DAG Ventures, for example, have respectively 66% and 59% companies in their portfolio with at least one patent.
Patents, thus, are vital to get financed. The problem, however, is some startups need finance to get a patent. If you file a patent application in the US, for example, you may end up paying $12,000 to $22,000 depending on the complexity of your invention. This includes attorney fee and getting a professional patent search run.
How as a startup you can save some money?
During a patent filing process, you may have to pay $2,500 to $3,000 for getting a professional patent search run with an attorney’s opinion on your invention. This patent search is known as patentability search which is conducted to find out whether an invention is patentable or not.
If something similar is already in existence or if a patent or any other document disclose your invention, it can act as a prior art and can make your invention non-patentable subject matter. Often time, confirming patentability of an invention doesn’t use to be that tough. If an inventor/startup knows how to conduct a patent search using free patent databases, they can confirm this at their own end and can save $2500 to $3000 per patent.
Free Patent Databases Where You Can Conduct a Patent Search Yourself
Below is a list of free patent databases that you can use to conduct a free patent search. Also, I suggest you go through this patent search guide to explore how you can use these databases to conduct a free patent search using different search techniques.
Google Patents Search
Google patent search is a free patent database by Google. You can access the database by typing patents.google.com in the address bar of your browser. What separates Google from other commercials as well as free patent databases is its sleek UI and faster response time.
Also, as we are accustomed to searching on Google, you may find it easier to conduct a patent search on Google Patents as it is, to some extent, similar to normal Google Search. You can go through this guide to learn how to conduct a patent search on Google Patents.
Espacenet is free patent database with over 100 million worldwide patents offered and maintained by the European Patent Office (EPO). In 2013, a study gave Espacenet highest ranking for patent data coverage and customer support.
Patentscope is free patent database by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) which gives anyone an access to 65+ millions patent documents from patent offices across the globe. It’s one of the best free patent databases to conduct an international patent search.
To access Patenscope, log on to https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/search.jsf. Patentscope offers you four different kind of patent searches – Simple, Advance, Cross-Lingual, and Field Combination. This user guide will help you conduct a patent search on Patentscope: Click here
Lens.org is a joint initiative of Cambia and Queensland University of Technology. Being open source, privacy-focused and packed with tons of useful features, Lens is one of the best patent search engines out there.
With over 80+ million patent indexed, Lens enables users to search through from over 100 jurisdictions. Few of the most useful features of Lens include – easy to use and navigate user interface, import/export of documents, saving search queries and patent sets in form of collections, exploring scholarly citations of patents, etc.
If you want to conduct a free US patent search, the best and most up to date database is of USPTO. Type patft.uspto.gov in the address bar of your browser to access the patent database. The USPTO offers you two databases AppFT and PatFT to search for patent applications and granted patents respectively. It gets updated every Tuesday – PatFt, and Thursday – AppFT.
Conducting a patent search yourself not only saves you some money but it also exposes you to what is already happening in your technological area of interest. You can use these insights to make changes in your patent application or can even come up with a new idea altogether.
Further, another benefit is that unlike research papers, patent delineates subject matter beautifully. Furthermore, when you read patents, you use to be in a company of another innovative mind of this planet. It inspires you to think creatively. A pure win-win.