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Atlanta Patent Law Firm Terms of Use


What is a Patent Search?

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There are several different types of patent searches and opinions.  The one that is most associated with the term 'patent search', is patentability search and opinion.  Some searches are only searches, others include opinions.

Patentability Search/Opinion

This is to determine whether it is likely that a patent can be obtained for a particular idea/invention.  An invention must be useful, novel and non-obvious in order to obtain a patent.

Infringement Opinion

This is to determine whether if you made, used, offered for sale or sold an invention, or imported an invention into the U.S., it would infringe on the patent rights of another.  If your invention is covered by the claims of a valid patent for which you have not been granted a right to use, then you infringe that patent and may be liable for damages.  The opinion may by conducted relative to a single patent or more than one patent.

Product Clearance (Freedom to Operate) Opinion

This infringement opinion is normally conducted by companies to determine whether there are any patents that their new product might infringe.

Patent Validity (or Invalidity) Opinion

This is to determine whether an apparently valid patent is in fact valid.  It may have expired or may not have been reviewed fully by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in relation to some other patents or publications that were never considered.  This is often conducted when someone is threatened with, or sued for, infringement, in order to absolve them from damages.

Field Search

This is a broad, general search for patents and publications that are somewhat related to the field of an inventor's idea.  It may be used for brainstorming improvements or other ways to modify an invention.

Foreign Search

These are searches of foreign patents which can be used to invalidate a later U.S. patent or prevent a patent from even being allowed, or which might be infringed if a product is sold in a foreign country.


For more information on intellectual property, please visit Patent, Trademark, Copyright Information.

The content of this article is not intended to be, and does not constitute, legal advice and does not create attorney-client privilege. Consult the attorney of your choice before embarking on any legal matter or any document preparation/filing.

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Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.

C2008, Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC; all rights reserved, world-wide.

Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30339
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Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100 - Atlanta, Georgia 30339