ADVICE FOR INVENTORS
A Patent Search is always advisable before embarking on a costly journey towards successful exploitation of an Idea or Invention, but you should only search using vague search terms, so if you have an invention involving a bicycle, then use a search term such as "bicycle", rather than specific terms which define your idea or invention.
A thorough Patent Search should only be carried out after at least a conceptual description of the Idea or Invention has been filed in the form of a patent application at the UK Intellectual Property Office in Newport, South Wales (often referred to as the UKIPO; or just IPO).
But even then, searching via an Examination of a filed patent application by the IPO, is more advisable, since the idea/invention, is then kept confidential; whereas searches via the Internet can reveal an idea or invention to third parties who will then be able to see your search terms. Moreover, a search using vague terms, as described above, is likely to involve you having to view a large number of published patent applications, whereas the Search carried by the IPO will be based on your Claims, and hence will directly relate to your Invention.
The conceptual patent application filed at the Intellectual Property Office will thus provide you with initial protection of your intellectual property (i.e. your Idea or Invention) whilst you investigate matters further, or we do it for you and continue to help you with your idea or invention.
Thus, unfortunately, it is better to find a great deal of published information by searching on the basis of broad search terms, than by defining your Idea or Invention in the search string in order to narrow down what comes back after the search. A search based on broad search terms which do not define your Idea or Invention means that you will have to do a lot of work, but you will be protecting your intellectual property, by not providing information about your specific idea or invention via the Internet.
A recommended procedure is thus to submit Claims to the Intellectual Property Office along with your patent specification, since this will provide a better search result because the Claims are what you are claiming to be your actual Invention, and they will be dealt with securely, which you will not get by doing a search for your idea or invention via the Internet, where anyone with an appropriate presence on Search Engines will be able to see the words in your keyword search as part of the analytics, e.g. Google Analytics, which they will have have access to. I have seen Inventions described in detail via the internet, which were likely to be an example of the Inventor merely researching their invention before it was protected!
You will, anyway, need to have a patent application on file at the Intellectual Property Office if you want to protect your idea or invention; so having a conceptual patent application filed "starts the ball rolling", and this can be followed by the filing of a more detailed application after creative development has been applied with our help.
Take care not to define your Idea or Invention in the Title because that could be seen in a Patents Journal even though you may not wish to have the application published.
Also, you may not wish to let potential third parties know too much about your idea or invention so early on, so just use vague terms in the title. The Title can always be changed under the advice of a Patent Examiner, so, initially, keep it broad.