Patent Search in India: Meaning, Types, Applicability, & Process

  • Setindiabiz Team
  • April 22, 2023
Patent Search in india
Patents are one of the most popular and significant types of Intellectual Property Protection in India. These are used to protect newly invented products across various industries. However, to enforce the protection legally, inventors have to undergo through the process of Patent Registration, the first step of which is to conduct the online Patent Search. Patent Search is used to determine the patentability of a particular invention based on the conditions outlined under the Indian Patent Act of 1970.
Conducting a patent search in India is of paramount importance as it enables inventors and businesses to assess the novelty of their inventions and identify existing prior art. By uncovering similar patents or published applications, a thorough patent search helps determine the chances of a patent application getting approved. This not only saves time and resources but also minimizes the risk of infringing on existing patents, thus paving the way for drafting stronger patent applications, and ultimately protecting valuable intellectual property rights of the inventor.

What is Patent Search in India?

Patent search in India is a systematic and comprehensive investigation conducted to identify existing patents, published patent applications, and other publicly available technical documents that are relevant to a specific invention. The purpose of this search is to determine the novelty and patentability of the invention before filing a patent application. An Indian patent search aims to uncover prior art, which includes any existing knowledge or technology that could potentially affect the patentability of the invention. The search results help inventors and businesses understand the existing landscape of prior art and make informed decisions regarding the pursuit of patent protection.

Benefits of Patent Search in India

While an Indian Patent Search is primarily conducted for determining the patentability of an invention, its importance can extend to several other factors like drafting an accurate patent application, assessing conflicts with existing patents, avoiding infringement conflicts, and licensing patents to third parties. Let’s analyze these factors a little better to understand the full potential of Patent Searches in India.
  1. Assessing Novelty: Conducting a patent search allows inventors to ascertain the novelty of their invention by comparing it with existing prior art. If the invention is already known or has been disclosed in a prior patent or publication, it may not be considered novel, which could affect the chances of obtaining a patent.
  2. Determining Patentability: By analyzing the search results, inventors can evaluate the patentability of their invention. A thorough search helps identify potential obstacles, such as similar inventions or prior art, and provides insights into how to improve the invention to make it more patentable.
  3. Saving Time and Resources: Patent applications can be time-consuming and expensive. By conducting a patent search upfront, inventors can avoid investing in an application for an invention that lacks novelty or patentability, thereby saving valuable time and resources.
  4. Avoiding Infringement Issues: Patent searches also help identify existing patents that are relevant to the invention. Understanding the patent rights of others helps inventors avoid potential infringement issues that could lead to costly legal disputes.
  5. Drafting Stronger Patent Applications: Armed with knowledge about existing prior art, inventors can draft stronger and more focused patent applications. By addressing potential challenges or similarities with existing patents, inventors can present a more compelling case for the patentability of their invention.
  6. Making Informed Business Decisions: Patent searches provide valuable market intelligence. By understanding existing patented technologies, inventors can make informed decisions about their inventions’ commercial potential and strategize their entry into the market.
  7. Negotiating Licensing and Collaborations: A comprehensive patent search empowers inventors during licensing negotiations or collaborations. Knowing the patents that exist in the relevant field allows inventors to assess their bargaining power and negotiate more effectively.

Types of Patent Search in India

Indian patent searches are conducted to explore various aspects of an invention’s patentability and legal status. Depending on the purpose of the search, different types of patent searches can be performed. Below are the key types of commonly conducted patent search in India:

Validity / Invalidity search

An invalidity search is conducted to find skipped prior arts so that a patent can be declared invalid. This is done generally in cases of infringement where a product is charged with infringing a patent. In a counterclaim of infringement, the owner of the product can declare the patent to be invalid, if any prior art can be cited. The idea behind the invalidity search is that generally a patent is granted to an invention by the Patent office after searching and examining its novelty. However, examiners can skip some prior arts which could be crucial for declaring a patent invalid during the examination process. The invalidity search seeks to find such skipped prior arts and prove a patent claiming to be infringed as invalid. On the other hand, a validity search is conducted to determine whether a patent is valid and registered or not. Such search is mandatorily conducted before buying a license from a patentee.

Freedom to operate search

A Freedom to Operate search or FTO is conducted to uncover the enforceable patents, which a product to be commercialized has the risk of infringing. Freedom to operate search is jurisdiction based and only the active enforced patents are considered while doing the searches. These searches are generally done to determine the potential risk of infringement a product possesses if launched in the market of a given jurisdiction. Thus, these searches are also known as infringement searches or clearance searches.

State-of-Art search

State of art search is conducted to know potential existing competitors and solutions within a given field of technology. Generally few patents are randomly chosen representing a field of technology. The state of the art search is to plan research and development activities more efficiently and to know which areas are not covered by the existing players.

How to Conduct an Indian Patent Search? - Stepwise Process

Conducting a patent search is no ordinary task; it’s a legally intricate process which is not a layman’s cup of tea. The process requires a clear understanding of the invention, along with an extensively curated list of keywords related to the invention using which the search will be conducted. Another important step is navigating through patent databases across the world for prior art search. The process does not end once the search results arrive. It needs to be analyzed well to gain insights into the invention’s novelty and originality. For this, a meticulous documentation called the “Patentability Analysis Report” needs to be prepared under expert guidance. In the steps below, we have discussed each of these steps in detail.
Stepwise Process Conduct an Indian Patent Search

Step 1: Understanding the Invention

Before searching an invention on patent databases, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the invention itself. Define the invention’s technical features, functionalities, and innovative aspects. By clearly outlining what makes the invention unique and original in functionality, the search can be focused and directed towards finding prior art that closely matches its essence. Understanding the invention’s core elements sets the foundation for the entire patent search process and helps in avoiding irrelevant search results.

Step 2: Accumulating Relevant Keywords for the Search

A successful patent search is heavily reliant on an extensive and carefully curated keyword list. These keywords encompass technical terms, scientific jargon, industry-specific terminology, and even colloquial names used for the invention. By brainstorming and compiling a comprehensive list of relevant keywords and synonyms, one ensures that no valuable prior art remains hidden due to mismatched terminology.

Step 3: Selecting the Right Databases

To search existing patents and inventions related to the in, one must first choose the right channels. Begin by exploring the Indian Patent Office’s online database, where tonnes of Indian patents and published applications await. For broader horizons, set course for international databases such as WIPO’s PatentScope, the USPTO, the EPO, Google Patents, and Espacenet. Each database offers a different perspective and a wealth of patents from various corners of the world, ensuring a comprehensive search for relevant prior art.

Step 4: Using the Appropriate Search Criteria

With the keyword list and databases at hand, the next step is to deploy the search criteria. Refine the search results by applying the curated keyword list and utilizing classification codes (IPC or CPC) to narrow down the search within specific technical domains. By employing filters such as publication dates, inventor names, and patent status, the search can be further honed to target patents and published applications most relevant to the invention.

Step 5: Analyzing Search Results & Preparing Patentability Report

Once you have applied the Search criteria and selected the databases, you can begin conducting the searches. As you start getting the search results, you need to thoroughly review and analyze the results and document these in the Patentability Analysis Report. We have discussed how to prepare this report in the further sections of this blog. While evaluating the report, you must pay close attention to the scope of the prior art in comparison to the invention. By evaluating similarities and differences, one can gauge the novelty and inventiveness of the invention and assess its potential patentability.

Step 6: Seeking Professional Assistance

The steps above are not easy to navigate by laypersons who do not have the right amount of experience in the field of patent search and patent registration. So, for a productive and successful patent search, it is always advisable to seek professional help, whether it be in the form of expert guidance and consultation, or end-to-end service assistance. At Setindiabiz, we boast a team of well-qualified, skilled and experienced patent attorneys who will offer both at the most reasonable costs.

What is Patentability Analysis Report & How Is It Related to Patent Search?

The patentability analysis report contains a detailed analysis of the scope of an invention’s patentability. The report is prepared based on the results of the patent search conducted, mainly on a worldwide level using free and paid databases. The report is prepared by patent professionals who are experienced and experts in their field.
Patentability Analysis Report is beneficial for an applicant of patent registration as it helps assess its chances of approval. The report guides the applicant in the right direction and prevents him from incurring unnecessary costs of filing an application for a patent which is not novel according to the searches conducted. In fact, the results of the searches are shared with the report to ensure greater transparency. Also relevant prior arts found in the searches are mentioned in the report and an explanation is provided on the patentability of the invention with respect to those prior arts.

Why is Patent Search in India Crucial for Patent Registration?

Patent Search India and Patent Registration are interconnected stages in the process of securing intellectual property rights for an invention. A patent search is conducted before filing a patent application, and it involves exploring various patent databases and other sources to identify existing patents and prior art related to the invention. The primary objective of a patent search is to assess the novelty and patentability of the invention. By examining prior art, inventors can determine whether their invention is truly new and inventive, meeting the essential criteria for patent registration.
The results of a patent search play a crucial role in the patent registration process. They help inventors evaluate the likelihood of obtaining a patent for their invention. If the search reveals similar existing patents, the inventor may need to modify the invention or seek licensing agreements to avoid potential infringement conflicts. This proactive approach ensures that the patent application stands a better chance of being granted, as it demonstrates the unique aspects of the invention in comparison to prior art.
A thorough patent search strengthens the patent application by providing valuable insights into the prior art landscape. Armed with knowledge about existing patents, inventors can craft robust patent claims and specifications, precisely defining the scope of their invention. This comprehensive approach helps patent examiners understand the inventive step and technical advancements more clearly, increasing the likelihood of the application’s approval.

Popular Databases for Conducting Patent Search

Conducting a thorough patent search is a critical step for inventors and businesses seeking to protect their innovative ideas and creations. In the digital era, a vast array of patent databases provides a treasure trove of information, offering invaluable insights into prior art and existing patents worldwide. Each database possesses unique characteristics and utilities that cater to different aspects of patent research. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular patent databases, each playing a pivotal role in the patent search process.
  1. Indian Patent Office (IPO) Database: The IPO database is crucial for inventors seeking patent protection in India. It provides access to a vast collection of Indian patents and published applications, helping inventors understand the local patent landscape and identify prior art related to their inventions. Inventors can search for granted patents and published applications filed with the Indian Patent Office here. The database also offers information on patent status and prosecution history, aiding inventors in evaluating the patentability of their inventions and assessing the progress of pending applications.
  2. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) PatentScope: WIPO’s PatentScope is a global database that provides access to millions of patent documents from around the world. It is a comprehensive resource for inventors and researchers looking to conduct international patent searches. Inventors can search for international patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), as well as national and regional patents from various countries. The database’s multilingual search capabilities facilitate global patent searches with ease. WIPO’s PatentScope is particularly useful for inventors with global patent ambitions. It offers insights into the patent landscape of multiple countries, helping inventors assess the novelty and patentability of their inventions on an international scale.
  3. United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): The USPTO database is one of the most extensive collections of patents worldwide. It is a critical resource for inventors interested in the US market and seeking patent protection in the United States. Inventors can search for granted US patents, published applications, and other patent-related documents. The USPTO database provides a wealth of technical information and legal data for inventors to analyze. The USPTO database is indispensable for inventors targeting the US market, as it offers insights into the patent landscape of one of the largest and most influential markets for innovation.
  4. European Patent Office (EPO) – Espacenet: Espacenet is the EPO’s patent database, offering patents from European countries and beyond. It is a valuable resource for inventors interested in European patent protection. Inventors can access European patent applications and granted patents, including those from European Patent Convention (EPC) member states. The database offers multilingual search capabilities, making it user-friendly for international users. Espacenet is particularly beneficial for inventors considering patent protection in Europe. It helps inventors understand the prior art in the region, assess patentability, and explore potential competitors.
  5. Google Patents: Google Patents is a widely used and accessible patent database. It is a convenient starting point for inventors and researchers conducting patent searches across various jurisdictions. The database provides a user-friendly interface and advanced search features. Inventors can search for patents from multiple countries, making it a versatile resource for global patent searches. Google Patents is valuable for inventors seeking a quick and broad overview of existing patents. It is particularly suitable for individual inventors and small businesses with limited access to specialized patent databases.
  6. FreePatentsOnline (FPO): FPO is a popular platform that offers free access to US and international patents. It is a valuable resource for inventors on a budget. Inventors can search for US and international patents and access patent PDFs and legal status information. FPO provides a simple and efficient way to conduct patent searches without incurring costs. FPO is beneficial for inventors with limited resources and small businesses. It provides essential patent search functionalities without the need for expensive subscriptions to other databases.
  7. Derwent Innovation: Derwent Innovation is a powerful patent database that offers extensive patent coverage and advanced search capabilities. Inventors and patent professionals can access a vast collection of global patents and patent-related data. The database provides sophisticated analytics and visualizations for in-depth patent analysis. Derwent Innovation is ideal for research-intensive industries, large corporations, and patent professionals seeking comprehensive patent information and advanced analytical tools.
  8. PatentScope by WIPO (PCT): Apart from the general PatentScope database, WIPO offers a dedicated platform for searching international patent applications filed under the PCT system. Inventors can search for PCT applications filed globally, along with relevant technical information and legal data. The PCT PatentScope is essential for inventors interested in the status and progression of international patent applications filed under the PCT system. It offers insights into the global patent landscape and the current stage of PCT applications.
  9. European Publication Server: The European Publication Server is an official platform that provides access to European patent applications and granted patents. Inventors can access a comprehensive collection of European patent documents, including descriptions, claims, drawings, and legal status information. The European Publication Server is valuable for inventors seeking patent protection in Europe. It offers official and up-to-date information on European patent applications and granted


In the world of innovation, patent search acts as a crucial compass for inventors seeking intellectual property protection. Exploring the popular patent databases has unveiled a wealth of knowledge, empowering inventors to assess novelty, evaluate patentability, and gain a competitive edge. From WIPO’s vast Patent Scope to the Indian Patent Office database, each resource offers exclusive benefits, catering to inventors worldwide. By leveraging these essential tools, innovators can confidently navigate the patent landscape, safeguard their ideas, and chart a course towards recognition, protection, and commercial success for their remarkable inventions.


A patent search is conducted to determine the novelty and patentability of an invention before filing a patent application. It helps applicants identify prior art and make informed decisions about pursuing patent protection.

Q2: What is patent search database?

Patent professionals utilize both paid databases (such as Dolphin, Orbit, Thomson Innovation) and free databases to conduct patent searches. These databases contain granted patents, non-patent literature, scientific publications, and research papers.
The three common types of patent searches are Novelty Search conducted to assess the novelty and patentability of an invention by identifying prior art, Validity/Invalidity Search performed to determine the validity or invalidity of a granted patent by identifying prior art that may render the patent invalid, and the Freedom to Operate Search which helps identify enforceable patents that a product may potentially infringe upon, assisting in assessing the risk of patent infringement.

Q4: How much does a Patent Search cost?

The cost of a patent search can vary depending on various factors such as the complexity of the invention, the scope of the search, the databases used, and the expertise of the patent professional conducting the search. It is advisable to consult with a patent agent or attorney to get an accurate estimate of the cost based on your specific requirements.

Q5: How long is a patent valid?

The duration of a patent’s validity depends on the type of patent and the jurisdiction. In general, utility patents are valid for 20 years from the filing date, while design patents are valid for 15 years. However, it’s important to note that patent laws and regulations can vary between countries, and it is advisable to consult the relevant patent office or a patent professional for specific information regarding the validity of a patent in a particular jurisdiction.
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