Believe it or not, patent rights actually date back thousands of years to Ancient Greece. Not surprisingly, the patent system as it exists in the United States today is a much more recent development. When America was nothing more than a collection of colonies, there were no general laws for patent issuance. However, colonial governments did see the value in granting exclusive commercial rights to those who deserved them. Individuals could seek and receive a grant of those rights if they were deemed worthy. Eventually, in the mid-to-late-1700s, patent rights took shape at the state level as states developed general patent procedures covering the submission of patent applications and general terms for patent holdings.
Patent rights became a federal matter when the United States Constitution was adopted in 1787. Article 1, section 8 gives Congress the power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” This power was executed as a series of patent acts in the years to follow. The Patent Act of 1836 (which followed the Patent Act of 1790) was the first statute to make it a requirement that patent applications be examined prior to issuance. Patents had previously been issued on all applications - validity was presumed and invalidity was a determination left to the courts in the event of a lawsuit. Nearly fifty years later, in 1871, Congress established the Patent and Trademark Center Program, which provided for the distribution of printed patents to public libraries. With 1836’s Patent Act creating an increased need for research prior to submitting a patent application, and with patent documents becoming more accessible to the public in 1871, what we know as a patentability or novelty search eventually became standard practice.
For over a century, there were no patent search tools to assist practitioners in their patent searches. Searches were all conducted manually by combing through archives of patent documents located in the nearest patent repositories. The internet revolution brought about great change to all in the 1990s, and the patent community benefited greatly as patent databases were established and became accessible online. The USPTO launched their PatFT and AppFT databases, and the European Patent Office (EPO) launched their Espace network. Then, recognizing the primitiveness of other patent search engines, Google launched Google Patents, which allows users to search full-text patent documents from seventeen different patent authorities.
Flash forward to the present when patent practitioners have the ability to conduct searches with greater speed and precision than ever before. LexisNexis TotalPatent One® provides patent professionals with access to over 100,000,000 easily-searchable, full-text patent documents from over 100 patent authorities worldwide. Researchers can conduct searches using a variety of query types, and information can be sorted efficiently for on-point results. The TotalPatent One® user interface is intuitive and designed to enable patent searchers to preview relevant information to quickly decipher complex patent documents and to uncover the most pertinent records. LexisNexis TotalPatent One has once again revolutionized the patent search, and, with a variety of additional features, TotalPatent One is the way of the future.