Preliminary Search

Date Published

Once the scope of the search has been identified, a preliminary search – the so-called “quick and dirty search” may efficiently find highly relevant citations. More importantly it provides understanding of the prior art, can help identify what the actual advance over the prior art might be, and identify some classification symbols and keywords for the main search.

There are a number of freely available databases and search tools available on the internet for searching both patent and non-patent literature. The selection of which tool to use in the preliminary search is largely dependent on the technology and examiner preference. The Patent Examination Workbench contains an extensive list of such tools and websites. Subject matter experts within Examination sections should be utilised if there is any doubt as to which tool to use.

When conducting searches for non-OPI applications such as PCT or Article 15(5) using free (i.e. non-secure) search tools, some degree of care must be exercised such that the search terms used would not amount to a disclosure of the invention to any third party who may have access to the search history.