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Sanity Search

A SANITY CHECK FOR INDEPENDENT INVENTORS

by John Moetteli, Founder

My name is John Moetteli, and I'm an inventor turned US patent attorney. As an inventor, I've been featured on the Discovery Channel's Invention Series, and on radio and television as well. As a patent attorney, I've worked for a large US law firm, the largest Geneva-based patent firm, and am now the principal of my own firm, based here in Geneva, Switzerland. I've been in the patent practice for over 10 years now.

Little upsets me more than to see talented inventors misapply their talents by re-inventing the wheel. Given the extent of patent information freely available on the web, one would think that this would happen less, not more, than in the past. Nevertheless, I assure you, the wheel is being re-invented much more often now than in days gone by! Why is this? Two primary factors are at play here. One is psychological-the other pedagogical.

First, the psychological: inventors are (and must be) dreamers. Dreamers dare to think differently and believe in themselves. They don't easily take "no" for an answer. But unfortunately, dreamers sometimes don't want to know the truth. Along with their "positive" dreaming which is essential in helping them create their inventions, a negative aspect is that dreams mean that sometimes the dreamer develops highly unrealistic expectations, sometimes so tenaciously held that the dreamer dreads the possibility that their dreams might not be realizable (e.g., due to a foundational fact or proposition being unjustified or untrue). Unfortunately, no amount of dreaming or imagination can take an invention that is in the public domain, or that belongs to someone else, and put it in the dreamer's hands, for him alone to exploit. Let's face it: you've got to build your dreams on reality, fundamental among them is that your invention be new. If your invention is not new, then, other than the educational value associated with the experience, the time and money you invest in it is wasted. Doubly wasted, when you think that that time and money might have been applied to a worth while invention. The money that you sink into an invention that is not new you'll never see again. If you've invested or are contemplating investing your retirement savings, then, without the right information at an early date, that savings will go away and you'll have to deal with the tragic consequences.

Second, the pedagogical: inventors don't know how to access the available online resources of patent and technical information. Fear of the unknown is a factor. More likely, the explanation is more practical: inventing is time consuming - the time to climb the learning curve can be daunting, and thus the search effort is ranked low among all the activities associated with the project. Consequently, the inventor doesn't find the time to do the patent search. Yes, the inventor can go to their patent attorney and seek advice, and a good patent attorney will almost always suggest a patent search. Unfortunately, to avoid the inventor coming back to him after having spent thousands in legal fees, the attorney is almost obligated to urge that his client first have a thorough professional patent search performed. Such a thorough professional search costs money and the result is never certain. Patent searching is an attempt at proving a negative (i.e., that your invention has not already been invented) - for this effort, you can spend many thousands of dollars in professional search fees and yet you will never have 100% assurance that your invention is new. Because of the high search costs, the inventor is tempted to do a search himself (if at all) and then have the patent attorney begin to prepare a patent application. Despite the advances made in making public patent data available without too much brain strain, inventors do not perform even the most basic searches properly. Again, no surprise, given his lack of motivation and time.

Too often, the end result is that if any search is done at all, it's often done by someone with little or no experience in performing such searches or who is not properly motivated to thoroughly search the prior art. Having not found any patent document that would destroy the novelty of the inventor's invention is good news which is easier to deliver, and is self-serving to the interests of the patent attorney (after all, the patent attorney will not get the order to prepare a patent application, if his search finds that the invention is not new). So, unfortunately, the inventor often acts without even the most basic information about potentially competing products and then spends his precious time and money investing in a losing project.

This tragic waste of time and money can be easily avoided if the inventor gets his hands on the right information early.

Therefore, it's been my mission at www.patentsearchers.net to help get the word out and to do what I can can make sure talented inventors invest their time and money in worthy projects most likely to bring them a proper return on their investments. This is what's motivated me to design Patent.Info's Sanity Search™, a preliminary novelty search that's performed by a trustworthy third party searcher, and that's just too inexpensive to resist. The price is within reach of all inventors and its goal is to see if there are readily available patent documents published on certain key online databases that should be considered early in the inventing process.

Further, the entire amount of the sanity search is creditable to the costs of a more thorough patentability search, when performed by the same searcher.

As an inventor, this project is close to my heart, and I hope that inventors will come to appreciate the services we have to offer. Visit the site and offer your comments and criticisms - our goal is to create the first-stop global, patent information portal. And drop "Dr. Patentstein" a line!

If the Sanity Search™ is not for you, click here to choose from our other search offerings.

John Moetteli is principal of Da Vinci Partners LLC in Geneva, an international patent and trademark firm. He's the founder of the patent.info website and PatentSearchers.net. He welcomes your comments and questions.

Although still "under construction", John and his team hope to offer you a fully functional, first-of-its-kind, network of patent searchers at www.patentinfo.net/patentsearchersnet. Visit the site and sign up as a pioneer member. Join the revolution!
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