Performing a Patent Search

by on 18/08/09 at 10:34 am

Performing a Patent Search

Lesson 3:

Is it a Needle in a Haystack?

This lesson is not a very long one however, your homework is.  As your idea is being drawn up more and more in your head (and hopefully on paper) you need to figure out is it really “new.” To do that you have to take some time and do a patent search. Asking investors to invest in your product before you do this would not be smart. It is recommended that you perform a patent search before asking anyone for help or money.  Think about it in this way, if a complete stranger, friend, or relative asked you for $10,000 and told you he doesn’t know if his idea for your money will work because he hasn’t researched anything would you give him your hard earned money?

                The fact of the matter is, is that you can always trust in yourself and your abilities. Getting others to believe in you is the hard part. After all, if you didn’t believe in yourself you wouldn’t go this far with inventing.  Now, why are patent searches so important? Well, statistics show that only 7% of all patented products are actually earning money.  That seven percent includes many inventions old and new. What is the benefit of that? By going online and doing a patent search you are able to view old and current patents. Including their written paperwork that includes the description of the product and design along with image and drawings of the product. This information is public and is there for you to use.  This will give you a better idea if you product has novelty.  

                While conducting your own search here are some helpful hints:

  • Once you are on and/or you can begin your search.
  • Search by keywords. For example if you created a new type of baby diaper dispenser then you should type baby care, diaper dispenser, etc.
  • Once you have typed in your appropriate keywords start looking for good patent. This means that is one that is close to yours.
  • Once you have located good ones then make sure you use the class numbers. Research these to know what listing they are.
  • Perform another search in that class/subclass. This will get you a more defined search.

                Once, you have done the search your next step is asking a patent lawyer or agent to perform one for you. I bet you are asking “why?” right now. Well the reason for this is because they have better knowledge of patent searches than you and have experience in it. The less time they spend looking for it the less money you pay them. If you have all of your information with you and you show that what you have found chances are they might tell you that there is one invention that is closer and you go from there.

                When selecting a patent attorney it is highly recommended to get references from inventor organization, other attorneys, and friends. You must look at the attorney’s credentials. Make sure that he has worked on inventions that are similar to yours. You don’t want an attorney that has worked on textile patents his entire life and you invention is used for machine guns. Here are some questions that would be smart to ask:

  • Is my product patentable?
  • What is you area of expertise?
  • What type of patents do you have experience with?
  • How many patents are similar to mine?
  • What type of patent do I qualify for?
  • How much will this cost?
  • Did you find patents that were not included in my research?

When you do your research it is nearly guaranteed that you will find similar products/patents. If you don’t double/triple check yourself to make sure it was thorough. Good luck guys and remember make sure that you read everything. This takes time. After all lawyers don’t charge hundreds of dollars because it only takes minutes.  If you have any questions concerning this lesson please e-mail me at

Bird, Pamela Riddle. Inventing for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2004, Chapter 3.

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