A patent registration process is long, complex, requires a lot of effort, and money.
The first and one of the keys to a successful registration process, in which the patent application get approved, is the search phase. The importance of the search is derived from the process itself. As the patent application is evaluated, the patent office examiner will conduct a search to determine if to approve or deny the specific application.
The examiner, as his name indicates, is tasked with examining whether to approve or deny the patent application. He studies it thoroughly and checks if it has the innovation and inventiveness progress required to be eligible for patent protection. This search is essentially a comprehensive search in any piece of information known and available to the human kind (previous patents, other patent applications, articles, products, any other form of publications, etc...).
By now you should be very clear about the reason and the importance of conducting a preliminary, in-depth, search for your patent before even starting the patent application process. If you can discover prior publications now, before you apply for a patent, you might be able to modify your application documents to better reflect innovation and inventiveness progress. On the other hand if your invention is just not new, you are saving hundreds and thousands of dollars by avoiding a failed patent applciation process.
Discovery and study of prior publications from the field of invention, as unrelated to the specific invention as they may be, points the inventor in the right direction when preparing the patent application documents in such a way that maximizes the chances of his patent application getting approved.
The search for prior publications is complex because it is supposed to cover the knowledge of the entire human race combined. In order to perform a good perliminary search one needs a lot of knowledge, information and expertise in multiple areas: 1) being familiar and having access to the many sources of information in which the search should be conducted. 2) expertise in the specific field of the invention in order to know what to look for and how to compare the finds with the invention. 3) experience in conducting searches effectively and efficiently using vast amounts of information in many languages.
In today's information age the search becomes both easier and harder at the same time....
Primary reasons to perform patent search before committing to the patent application process: