An Invalidity Search is carried out to identify references that could question the validity or enforceability of a granted patent.
The most common scenario involves an inventor or a company trying to invalidate a third party’s patent as a defense to an infringement accusation. By proving that the IP rights shouldn’t have been granted in the first place — because of non-novelty or obviousness of the invention, for example — they might succeed in getting the charges dropped.
Specularly, the owners of an infringed patent could resort to it when considering a lawsuit. Before investing in costly litigation, in fact, it would be wise of them to verify the strength of the patent and anticipate the defendant’s attempts at invalidating it.
Licensing is another area in which Invalidity Searches are widely used. In this case, both parties are involved: on one side, the licensee making sure that the patent is worth the proposed royalties; on the other, the licensor trying to raise the royalties for those patents that are deemed to be highly “litigation-proof”.