A patent search is a very important part of gaining your patent. The search can help you come up with new features to improve on your invention before you try to patent and market it. This will only increase your chances of creating something of value to the marketplace.
So back to patent searching. You can get a reasonable patent search for a few hundred dollars. An in-depth comprehensive search will cost more (around a $1,000). But before you spend any money at all applying for a patent, reducing your invention to practice, or building an expensive prototype, you can start searching around all on your own. Thanks to the internet, it is fairly simple to get started on your own patent search.
The USPTO has a very detailed website with patent searching capabilities. Best of all, it is free. That is the number one place to begin your quest in determining if your invention is novel.
The USPTO's website makes it simple to check out issued patents all the way back to the 1970's. You may access older patents from their archives, but depending on the nature of your invention, you may not need to look that far back (technology has its limits you know). You may begin a very preliminary patent search by writing down all the words you can think of that describe your invention. You would then want to perform a keyword search using the USPTO's database. The trick is to just brainstorm terms that describe your invention (or aspects of it). This is a fairly reasonable way to start a preliminary patent search and get a good feel for whether or not your invention is novel.
Remember that you need to consider patents covering inventions that might not be just like yours, but are similar to yours. You should note all these and then study them. Check through the existing patents and take notes of the most relevant ones. You should even print these out and begin building a stack of relevant prior art.
By studying existing and similar patents you may learn many important facts in addition to determining whether your invention is new or not. These facts might include other potential uses for your product, finding potential licensees or assignees (people who may buy the rights to your invention from you), or other product features that you hadn't thought of. You can also study the background sections and the data that others with similar inventions included in their patents. This can help you find references that relate to your invention without having to look everywhere all on your own. All this will help you make the process easier, help you to create a more unique invention, and give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.
As you can imagine, you're going to uncover quite a bit of important information as you search through inventions that are similar to yours. So you need a system for keeping everything organized. Keep all this material in your notebook. This notebook may just turn out to be priceless.
Add in your analysis of whether or not these past inventions were ever marketed successfully. Have you seen them sold? Does a company own the rights to them? After you've done all this research on the internet, in magazines, even in stores, you'll probably recognize whether or not the invention ever made it to the marketplace. At this point you now have a ton of research on inventions similar to yours and whether or not they were profitable. Now you need to determine what features about yours might make it more useful or desirable than other inventions that were marketed. People generally want things that are faster, cheaper, stronger, and better so if you can market your invention in that way, you stand a good chance of making a profit.
Copyright © 2006 All Rights Reserved. Visit http://www.patentyourinventions.com for more Patent Invention resources. Learn about Patent Law, Invention Marketing, Invention Manufacturing and read our Patent Q & A.