Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Patent Searching for SEAS Students

Why do a Patent Search?

Patentability/ Avoid Infringement:

The most common reason to conduct a comprehensive prior art patent search is to make sure no other similar invention already exists.  Patents are granted to inventions that are novel (new) and non-obvious.  If an inventor believes their invention is new, they must first conduct a prior art search before they apply for a patent. 

"Prior art" pertains to any previous mention of the technology or device in the public domain.  In other words, prior art searching must also include searching the internet, research databases, and other spheres besides granted patents.

Unique Technical Information:

  • ~70-90% of technical information can only be found in patents
  • see how others have tackled a particular design problem
  • avoid duplication of research efforts
  • explore state-of-the-art technology

Market Research:

  • track the intellectual property of competitors
  • see what companies (or competitors) have in their pipeline (what's the next big trend)
  • identify possible licensing opportunities
  • see who the leading inventors are with a field (e.g. headhunting)

Genealogy and Historical Research: