Since the U.S. changed to a first-to-file system, finding recent publications in a patentability search has become essential to assessing patentability. When a topic is particularly hot in certain industries, a flurry of activity at the patent office concerning that topic is common. With a first-to-invent system, there was less concern about applications filed shortly before the inventor’s application since the applicant possibly can provide evidence of earlier invention. Thus, the applicant may still choose to file an application even if pre-dating applications were already on file at the patent office. With a first-to-file system, however, regardless of the date of invention, the applicant is likely to lose patentability to the earlier filed applications, and therefore filing a patent application would be a costly mistake. Thus, it is critical to applicants to have a search that provides the most up-to-date results as possible.
Without careful searching, these recent earlier-filed applications may not be discovered, even though they are relevant to a patentability search. Although many applications publish 18 months after filing, there may be a delay in adding the publication to online databases, such as Google Patents. For example, U.S. Publication No. US2015084955 to Chen et al. was not available through Google Patents as of October 4, 2015, even though it published March 26, 2015. At SPSG, the searchers take care to use research tools that update their database frequently. Moreover, SPSG searchers use many search techniques to identify all relevant prior art, and give close scrutiny to recently published applications. For example, classification searching in addition to key term searching are critical search tools. Thus, recent patent publications are frequently reported to our clients to provide them with a full view of current developments in the field. This allows clients to make informed decisions on the patentability of their inventions and to avoid application costs for inventions that have been recently disclosed in applications filed earlier.
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