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                               PATENT SEARCH INFORMATION


While the goal of a patent search is to find the patents which are most similar to the invention,
nevertheless another searcher might consider different patents as the most pertinent ones for any
particular invention.  There are thousands of patent search subclasses into which patents are indexed,
and there are hundreds of patents in each subclass.  Any decision on where an invention can be found,
or which patents found are important, is a very subjective judgement, and a searcher and a U.S. Patent
Office Examiner may not always reach the same conclusions.

Furthermore, computer searches are likely to differ even more between different searchers.  Since most
computer searches are based on searching for words or phrases, all that is required to get different
results is to choose different key words.

Also, although patent searches are performed with great care, it is always possible that a pertinent
patent may not be found, because there are inherent possibilities for errors in the process.  Perhaps the
most important problem is that there are very few patent APPLICATIONS in the search files.  Since patent
applications are confidential until at least 18 months after filing, we can not find out anything about
applications which were filed in the last year and a half.  This office once had a patent rejected because
of a patent which issued only five days after the patent search which preceded our application.

It should also be noted that, although there may be foreign patents which are pertinent to an invention,
foreign patents are not checked in the usual patent search.  Foreign patents can be searched, but this
requires an additional cost and may be of limited value because foreign patents are not completely
translated in the available files.

Nevertheless, a patent search is definitely worthwhile because at nominal cost it provides a reasonable
indication of the patentability of the invention.  It is therefore a real aid in determining whether a patent
application should be filed and approximately how much protection a patent can provide.