Q: How can I get help with researching patents? I am trying to obtain a proof of concept for my idea I want to patent.
Areas of interest:
Nanotechnology + Optics + Thin Film Technology
I am not sure if I quite understand what you are asking, but let me make a few comments:
(1) A proof of concept is usually obtained by performing research on the product or service that you want to put onto the marketplace. The type of questions that are being investigated are: “Will this product sell?”, “Can we make money on this?”, “How can we market it?”, “What sales channels should we use?”, “Does the product work?”, “How do we manufacture it?” The point of this exercise is not to answer these questions fully, but to simply getting a rough idea to figure out if the business idea makes sense in the real world.
(2) Depending on the technology, patents may or may not play a role in the proof of concept. If you are trying opening up a barber shop, then patents are not particularly relevant. If you are trying to produce new products containing nanotechnology or thin film products or trying to develop technology which you can license to manufacturers of products, then worrying about patents is crucial, and an analysis of the patent landscape should be a part of the business plan. It sounds like you fall into the latter category.
(3) If you want to know what is going on with patents in your technology or that could affect your product, you need a patent landscape analysis, or a patent landscape report (“PLR”). You can search for what PLR is, but essentially it helps you to answer two questions:
- How likely is it that I will get sued for infringement when I make my product?
- How likely is it that I will get a valuable patent on my product?
(4) How extensive (and expensive) the PLR is a business decision. It can be a very terse report which just identifies the highlights and gives a quick&dirty look at the patent landscape. Or it could be a very detailed, scour the Earth type analysis that is extensive and offers a much clearer picture.
(5) You should have two people working on the PLR. One, a professional searcher who has access to all the right databases and is familiar enough with the technology to understand what is being asked (you do not want someone who just does keyword or class searches). Two, a patent attorney to give you a legal opinion on how relevant what the searcher found is to your business. You really need both. Usually, a client asks me to do the analysis, and then I select and hire the appropriate searcher whose results I then analyze, but some clients hire me separately from the searchers who may be their own in-house experts.
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