Difference Between Patent Searches & Infringement Clearance.

A patent search can be defined as a search conducted to locate subsisting patents and prior art. This helps in ascertaining if any invention is similar to the invention for which a patent has to be obtained.

It is a very common notion that performing a patent search will fulfill two objectives, that whether performing a patent search will help in getting a patent for an invention and if an inventor is infringing any already issued patents. A patent search focuses entirely on the fact that how likely is it for an invention to obtain a patent. Incase you want to know if you are at the possibility of infringing a patent, this is known as freedom to operate or an infringement clearance search. A patent search and an infringement clearance search have a huge difference in terms of the services provided by each and also the cost.

What is a patent search?

A patentability/novelty search is carried forward in order to ascertain whether an invention can be patented or not by searching relevant prior art. The major reason why a novelty search is used is to find out whether an invention is completely new or pre-existent. A novelty search can assist an inventor in identifying an already existing idea. Practicing a novelty search before filing a patent application for an invention can help assure that the patent won’t get rejected. In case the novelty search for the invention turns out to be “prior art”, a lot of valuable time and investment can be saved by avoiding the patenting of a prevalent idea. A comprehensive novelty search can prove to be a very economical and productive tool that one can possess not only to establish an invention and obtain a prior patent, but it is also helpful in avoiding infringement. A meticulous infringement evaluation can prove to be a helpful option for certain individuals interlinked with a novelty search.

What is an infringement clearance search?

An infringement clearance analysis is performed to comprehensively study each and every element of the product that has to be commercialized. Every element attached to the product is inspected to look for any unlicensed intellectual property and tangible property of third parties. Once the results of the infringement clearance search performed are obtained, a prior infringement clearance opinion is outlined by a patent council. The infringement clearance opinion outlined reflects the range of infringement of the IP rights attached to the product.


  1. A patentability search is conducted to find out whether a new invention is unique and there is no such invention pre-existent.
  2. A patentability search looks for all the documents that disclose details and features of a candidates claim. While in an infringement clearance search, enforceable patents are searched which are related to a specific product.
  3. In a patent search, documents from all countries are considered relevant. While in an infringement search only that jurisdiction is considered in which the products will be manufactured and sold.