You need to find out if your invention has already been patented
Consider the following:
You have come up with a revolutionary idea. You want to patent it, because it will change the world. You want to have the financial rewards of your genius. All you need to claim the idea as yours, is to patent it. There is one small problem. What if someone else has already patented your idea?
Enthusiasm aside, you must make sure you can get a patent before you spend your time and money. How do you find out if you have a high probability of receiving a patent? The answer is to do a US patent search.
Why just a US patent search? Won't you want to protect your idea around the world? How much money do want to spend? If you are a big corporation or have deep pockets, you may be able to file patents worldwide. However, if you are light on funds and live in the US, just file there. You can always decide later that it is worth going abroad with your patent filings.
You are now ready for a description of a patent search. A patent search requires a patent database, with a search facility. An elementary search can be performed using the US Patent Office website. It is awkward and difficult to perform a search there. Another alternative is the Google patent database. It is much easier to search and you can print out the whole patents.
To start a searcher will enter a keyword or keyword phrase into the search facility. She may get too many results. If so, additional keywords can be used to narrow the search. If she gets too few results or none, then the search needs to be broadened enough so results are obtained.
When a close match to the patent idea is obtained, then up and down searches can be executed. An up search examines the patents that the close match patent cited as references. The down search is the patents that cite it.
Let's say you have a US patent search, about your revolutionary idea, finished. What did you learn? There are 3 possible things:
A professional patent searcher will give you an advantage. Here are a few of the pluses you should expect:
The US patent search is finished. You now know what to do. You know how much risk there is in proceeding with a patent. Your investment in a patent search has paid off.