A search can be performed for any registered IPR, be it a patent a trademark or a design. An objective for a search can be to check if the own idea is already protected, if it is reasonable or possible to commercialize the idea or if IPR of third parties have to be considered prior to commercialization of the product incorporating the idea(s).
A patent search is performed in patent data bases, for example to check if a presumptive novel technical solution is also new and inventive according to the patent law requirements. In the following, such a search is termed a novelty search. An infringement search has a different scope. In the course of an infringement search it is checked if a presumptive new technical solution is susceptible of infringing IPR`s of thired parties. The infringement search is also named freedom-to-operate search in the literature.
In the course of a novelty search it is checked if an idea in the sense of a possibly new technical solution is new and inventive in the context of patent low. "New" signifies that the idea has not yet been published. Under publication it is intended any demonstration, description, picture, video in brochures, periodicals, lectures, trade shows, on the internet, in particular on portals such as Youtube ®. In case an idea has ever been published on one of these platforms, the idea is not new anymore and can not be protected by a patent anymore.
In the course of an infringement search IPS checks if an idea in the sense of a new technical solution is suitable for infringing prior rights of third parties. It is aimed as a check of the patent landscape for this idea. This check is warmly recommended to be performed before an investment decision for building a prototype or even further investments in plants or machinery are considered.
In the course of a trademark search, it is checked if a sign to be registered as a trademark conflicts with older trademark rights. Such a conflict may exist if there is a danger that the new sign to be registered may lead to confusion with older existing signs on the market. Trademarks are usually closely related to the products or services for which they are used. It can occur that a similar mark can be protected for different goods or services as long as it is evident to the consumer, that both marks denominate different products or services of different suppliers.
For a trademark search it is thus relevant not only to provide the mark, i.e. the sign to be searched but also to provide information about the product or service for which the mark is to be used.