What does this mean?
People do a patent search to check if a certain invention has already been patented or to check if there is any prior art that could bar a patent application. Ideally this is done before investing in an invention.
Does this apply to me?
If you plan on having a patent, yes.
Why is making this mistake going to harm my business?
If you file a patent application or invest resources in developing a product before doing a patent search, you run the risk of all that investment going to waste because only the first one who applies gets it.
Not only that, it’s not just the same invention that can defeat your patent application. Either an “equivalent,” which means one that does the same thing in a similar manner that leads to a similar results, or any “prior art” could result in your invention being labeled “obvious” or not new--which would bar your ability to get a patent.
You could avoid this by:
You can avoid this by doing patent searches even while developing your invention. Check also for the current state of technology from time to time to see if there is anything that can render yours obvious or old. Lastly, it would be wise to have someone do a thorough patent search at least once prior to finally filing your application.
Will was about to start his own company that focused entirely on his sales automation app. He quit his job, and set a target date 6 months from then for when he’d launch his app. Two months before the launch, he ran out of money and put a second mortgage on his home, sold his car, and pawned his grandmother’s wedding ring to fund the last push. He reached his launch date, was successful, and things were great.
Great, that is, until he got a letter from a guy named Chet’s attorney. The letter stated that Chet owned a patent that resembled Will’s product and demanded Will cease and desist from continuing to use the product. Will consulted a patent attorney and realized he had no choice but to close down his business or else face prolonged litigation that he would likely lose.
Will could’ve avoided all these problems by doing a routine patent search before investing so much money in his product.