Advice on Patents


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Patent Searches


Doing a Patent Search 

Conducting a patent search is a complicated process but can be done online for patents from 1976 on. The Patent Office has been making great progress in modernizing their facilities and procedures to streamline the process as much as possible.

Patents from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by Issue Date, Patent Number, and Current US Classification. 
Where To Start

 In an effort to save money on a patent search, an inventor can take advantage of the resources provided by the patent office. There are databases set up to make it much easier than it used to be.

My Approach

One sensible approach, prior to hiring a professional patent searcher is to do some preliminary searches of your own. This may prevent you from spending money on a search that is somewhat easy to find. Meaning a few search terms might just locate a patent and save you the trouble of going any further.

These steps will not replace that of having a professional search done. I would go through the process of searching all the obvious terms, much like doing a Google search.


Take note of the results you get back, ( I find having a spreadsheet open is a great way to list results). Once you develope a list of patents that have been returned, go through the list by entering each patent number into the database and reviewing the existing patent. A good place to start is by checking the prior art. That's the term for drawings of the invention. If there is a major difference check a no box on the spreadsheet. If it's close, read the claims of the patent. These are what the inventor is claiming is the invention.

If your idea is like the patent claims check the maybe box, which will let you know to come back to it for further research.

And if it's the same basic idea, invent something new!

 While this may seem a bit intimidating, it really isn't too tough.


 © Lee A. Jesberger - 2008

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