Patent/Literature Search

Situations when a pa­tent and non-pa­tent lit­er­a­ture search con­duc­ted by Feiner Services is useful:
You are quite sure that you have found a com­mer­ci­ally usa­ble, new way of solv­ing a tech­ni­cal problem and want to pa­tent your invention.
You are an in­ves­tor won­der­ing whether to fund an invention.
In both cases a search in the pa­tent and non-pa­tent lit­er­a­ture might re­veal prior art which will be de­tri­men­tal to the pa­tent­a­bil­ity and in­dus­trial ap­plica­bil­ity of an in­ven­tion. For the same rea­son it is ad­vis­a­ble to check that the in­ven­tion is not in con­flict with the laws of nature.
You intend to de­velop and mar­ket a new device.
A search in the pa­tent lit­er­a­ture might iden­tify pa­tents still in force that are re­lated to your de­vice. This means you are at risk of in­fring­ing these patents.
You would like to know which com­pa­nies are doing the most re­search and de­vel­op­ment in a spe­cific tech­no­log­i­cal field.
You are interested in where the re­search and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts of a spe­cific com­pany are centered on.
Using the clas­si­fi­ca­tion schemes for pa­tents and the query op­tions of pub­lic pa­tent da­ta­bases a search in the pa­tent lit­er­a­ture yields the ap­pli­cants and the in­ven­tors as well as the re­spec­tive num­ber of pa­tents for cer­tain technologies.
You are looking for tech­ni­cal concepts that can be used for free.
Usually, a pa­tent has a life­span of 20 years from the fil­ing date ("term of pa­tent"). Then it ex­pires and is free to use. An ap­pro­pri­ately de­signed search in the pa­tent lit­er­a­ture returns a list pa­tents in the rel­e­vant field of tech­nol­ogy sorted by the fil­ing dates.

"Prior art is any evi­dence that your in­ven­tion is al­ready known."

The sources of prior art are usu­ally di­vided into "pa­tent lit­er­a­ture" and "non-pa­tent lit­er­a­ture". Pa­tent lit­er­a­ture can be found in pub­lic da­ta­bases of pa­tent of­fices like the Euro­pean Pa­tent Office (EPO) or the United States Pa­tent and Trade­mark Office (USPTO).

Non-pa­tent lit­er­a­ture (NPL) is de­fined as any "tech­nical doc­u­ment that is nei­ther a pa­tent nor a pa­tent ap­pli­ca­tion and that is sub­mitted by a party — such as an ap­pli­cant, an op­po­nent, or a third party — or cited by an ex­am­iner dur­ing pa­tent prosecution."

Part of the NPL are sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal ar­ti­cles. Worldwide, the number of sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal ar­ti­cles pub­lished each year is al­most as high as the num­ber of pa­tent ap­pli­ca­tions per year and nearly double the num­ber of granted pa­tents per year:

NPL in relation to PL
NPL in relation to PL

Diagram:

Feiner Services

Data (scientific and technical articles):