Must I do a patent or prior art search?

It is not absolutely necessary to perform a prior art search, but it is highly recommended. A search may help you better understand what’s “out there” and may therefore help you decide if and where to file, often saving you much money and allowing you to make more informed decisions. Additionally, knowledge gained through a search may help guide you and us in the drafting of the patent application, thereby increasing the odds of your getting a patent on your invention, and of your patent being enforceable.