Free patent searches are just a click away.
A US patent search is an early, prerequisite step in the process of filing a patent application. The primary intent of a patent search is to find out if anyone has previously invented your idea. However, especially for a new inventor, the costs for hiring a patent attorney (or a patent-search company) to conduct the patent search may be — in itself — more than the inventor can afford.
A patent search by an attorney or company can run up to $1,000 and more, especially if your invention is in what’s called a “crowded” field of art — that is, lots and lots of products in the same field of your invention.
Thankfully, over the last few years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and other organizations have put sizable chunks of patent databases online — free for everyone’s review and search.
The two databases that I personally find most valuable are:
1. The service provided directly by the USPTO. http://www.uspto.gov/patft/
2. A phenomenal new service offered by Google. The Google Patent Search tool covers the entire collection of USPTO patents issued from the 1790s through those issued in the middle of 2006. http://www.google.com/patents
Conducting the patent search
With the above two patent-search tools (and others) at your disposal, how do you go about conducting a patent search? Instead of me reinventing the wheel here (pardon the pun), there are some great step-by-step tutorials on the Web that will give you the paths to follow. These tutorials are free and unbiased, as they’re authored by two fine, reputable educational institutions: the University of Texas and Penn State University.
Check out the following two links the above-referenced university tutorials: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/engin/patent-tutorial/index.htm
I hope the above information sheds some light on the patent search process. With the above free patent search tools and the free patent search tutorials, you should have the resources you need to conduct a thorough patent search that will become the foundation of your patent application. And save yourself a lot of money in the process.
P.S. This post answers the following Web visitor questions and information searches:
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