Clearance Search – Patentability Opinion

A patent clearance search is a search for prior art that is relevant to a product/idea/method.  The search covers patents, patent publications, publications and industry literature. Prior art may be similar in terms of the technological field or in terms of the problem the invention solves.

A clearance search is often used to determine first: If the invention in question may be infringing on an existing patent or patent application; and second: If the invention is patentable.  Generally, this is a helpful way to decide whether to proceed with commercialization of a invention, and if the invention is worthy of a patent application.

As a clearance search reveals a large amount of highly relevant prior art, it can be used  to counsel an inventor to forego filing an application and thus save a great deal of money pursuing a patent that cannot be achieved. In addition, the clearance search may identify an expired patent that is very similar or identical to the invention, which could provide a safe-haven for commercialization of the invention.

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