Perform a Patent Search
There are online resources you can use to find an existing patent. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s patent search page. There, you can perform a quick search, advanced search, or even search by patent number. The database offers information about all U.S. patents from 1790 to the current week, and is updated every Tuesday. Keep in mind these are patents that have been granted though, and do not include any patents in the queue for review.
Tip: Make sure you need a patent and not a trademark or a copyright before continuing.
To get started on your own, it’s best to start with a Quick Search:
1.From the drop down list, select a year or range of years to search. Make your search relevant to the product. If you want to patent something that uses Bluetooth technology, there’s no reason to search the 1800’s!
2.Think of two terms that describe your product. Enter the first term in the text entry box. Your first term should broadly describe your product in a single word, like shoe, phone, or tractor.
3.Choose a field related to your first term from the related drop down list.
4.Select a Quick Operator (AND, OR, or AND NOT) to define the relationship you want to apply to the first and second terms.
5.Enter the second term. Tip: To broaden your search use Or. To lessen your search results, use And. For instance, Putter AND Ground vs. Putter OR Ground will provide completely different results.
6.Select a field related to your second term from the related drop down list.
7.Hit the Search button.
You’ll need to perform this search many more times using various search terms, years, and field settings to decide if your invention is unique. Understand that it’s difficult to reach into the depths of the patents filed; you’ll never check every one. That’s why, although you can perform a search yourself, it’s best to let a patent attorney handle it. They know the best techniques for uncovering existing patents, and generally offer a guarantee that a patent for a similar product has not been issued.
Tip: Remember, it can take years to get a patent, and other inventors are in line ahead of you!