Research will help you answer questions such as the following.
Is my idea new and different?
Answers to this can be found in a “Technical and Competitive Assessment“. This research will find patent and non-patent references that are closest to the new product/service. You obtain technical, legal and competitor information, identifying opportunities and obstacles.
What are my chances of getting patent protection?
Once your invention is clearly defined, a “Patentability” or “Prior Art” search can be performed. It is the same search that the patent office examiner would perform. With these results, your patent attorney will be able to identify what is potentially patentable and you will have a better idea of your chances of obtaining patent protection.
There are similar products, will I have any problems with the competition?
A “Freedom to operate” or “Clearance” search will answer this question. This search identifies all patent references related to the product. An analysis of active and expired patents will help your attorney determine any risks.
I am thinking about a product in an area I am not familiar with. How can I know if has been thought of before and where my product fits in relation to others in this area? Is it worth my time to pursue this idea?
Very early ideas are often not fully developed or described in detail. You need to know what has already been done, where the technology is moving, who are the competitors, and whether there is an opportunity. A “Patent Landscape” can answer all of these questions and more.