To avoid a letter alleging infringement by your R&D, it pays to find out what patents already exist similar to your particular widget.

For example, an IP attorney would ask a number of questions such as what technology is already out there, and are there prior rights to that technology in regard to the products, methodology, formulations, chemical compounds, and so on.

Once we have determined that your technology is suitably unique then we need to decide if it can be protected and what breadth of protection it can have.

Most countries have what is called “absolute novelty” where any prior use or publication can be considered “prior art”. This means that anything published or used before your application has prior right to a patent.

On average it will take an IP attorney about two weeks to do a thorough search on existing patents and to produce an opinion on the patentability of your product.

Should a patent already exist, a good patent attorney will suggest an alternative or creative approach to achieving a patentable product. They might recommend negotiating with the third party to say, do a deal with the patent holder, to perhaps cross-licence the technology, or build a negotiation position such as a joint venture.

CreateIP conducts regular watching briefs on our customers’ competitors to see what they’re up to. With such close scrutiny we can see what they are researching and developing.

This process is strategic IP practice called “competitor and technology intelligence”, which CreateIP includes as part and parcel of all its customers strategic IP management, and it’s an essential aspect of IP strategy that enables organisations to ‘stay ahead of the game’.