This question often comes up prior to the drafting of a patent application. Should you spend the money to see what is out there or do you simply wish to focus on drafting and filing your patent application. The answer is both simple and complex, even patent agents have different views when it comes to whether or not to perform a search.
If you don’t wish to spend money on the search or you simply wish to obtain patent pending status in an attempt to deter competitors for a few years then the results of a search may be unimportant. If that is the case, then a search becomes much less relevant. If you intend to file a patent application regardless of what is found in a search, spending the money to have a search completed is likely a waste of time and resources. However, if your ultimate goal is to obtain a Letters Patent, it can be in your best interest to have a search performed. A search will give you an idea of what is already being done and can be useful in helping to determine whether your idea is new and non-obvious. While performing a search does not guarantee the success of obtaining a Letters Patent, it can give you an idea of whether or not it is worth the cost to prepare an application and can also help to narrow down exactly what you are looking to protect.
It is important to note that an opinion related to patentability is not a guarantee. It may still be possible to obtain a patent for an invention where the search results are not particularly favorable. In the same light, an encouraging search report does not guarantee that you will obtain a patent for your invention.