Preliminary patent search
In a preliminary patent search you may conclude about the originality of your idea, i.e. novelty and inventive step, to make a decision basis about to proceed and file a patent application or not.
A preliminary patent search will also give you an idea about the patenting activity within the technical field in question. Moreover, a preliminary patent search can reveal existing patents that might prevent you from commercializing your project.
Accordingly, a preliminary patent search should be conducted at an early stage in the innovation process.
In addition to the information which can be obtained from a preliminary patent search, you should assess the possible variations of the central aspects of your idea. It is preferred that the patent application comprises/describes all alternative solutions so that the competitors are prevented from making a workaround for this particular solution.