(Invalidity search, Opposition)
Validity searching is a type of patent search that is conducted to determine the validity of an existing patent. The purpose of a validity search is to identify prior art that was not considered during the original examination of the patent that could potentially affect the validity of the patent.
Validity searches can be useful in a variety of contexts, such as litigation, licensing negotiations, and patent portfolio management. For example, a company accused of infringing a patent may conduct a validity search to find prior art that could invalidate the patent and defend against the infringement claim.
In a validity search, a patent search professional will typically conduct a comprehensive search of various sources of prior art, including patents, patent applications, scientific and technical journals, and other publications. The search will focus on finding prior art that was not considered during the original examination of the patent and may be relevant to the novelty and nonobviousness of the claimed invention.
Once the prior art is identified, it will be analysed to determine whether it is relevant to the validity of the patent. If the prior art is found to be relevant and the patent claims are determined to be invalid in light of the prior art, the patent may be subject to a validity challenge.
Suppose a company holds a patent on a particular design of a wind turbine blade. Another company is interested in developing and manufacturing wind turbines using a similar blade design, but they are concerned about potential patent infringement issues.
To avoid any legal complications, the company may commission a validity search to determine the strength and validity of the existing patent. During the validity search, a search professional would review relevant prior art related to wind turbine blade design and compare it to the patented blade design to determine the novelty and nonobviousness of the invention.
If the validity search reveals that the patented blade design is not novel or non-obvious in light of the prior art, then the existing patent may be vulnerable to challenges. In this case, the second company may be able to proceed with its own wind turbine design using a similar blade design without infringing on the existing patent. Alternatively, if the patent is determined to be strong and valid, the company may need to seek a licence from the patent holder or consider alternative blade designs to avoid infringement.