how to do a patent search

Eureka! You’ve got an idea for a product that will change the world and make you a very rich entrepreneur.

You’re excited to make samples, make some tweaks, then push it out to the world. But hold on there, eager beaver… first, you have to do a little homework.

Are there any patents on the technology behind your product? This is also good information to know so that, if it isn’t already patented, you can make a patent of your own!

Trying to maze your way through this process can be a bit overwhelming. Here are step by step instructions on how to do a patent search.

How to Do a Patent Search

It can be intimidating to do a patent search if you have no previous experience, here are directions on the correct process to get you started!

Step One: Visit the USPTO Index

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, for short) is your go-to index for all trademarked patents.

If you’re looking for help on searching for patents using a tool, then discover more about this product.

First, start thinking of keywords or phrases that people might use to describe the product or technology behind your invention.

Once you have a couple of those in mind, use the USPTO index page and search for those keywords and the class code associated with them.

Step Two: Turn to the Classification Schedule

Once you’ve collected all the class combinations that apply to your keywords, it’s time to use the classification symbol lookup.

Select USPC as your classification system, enter the classification symbol for each keyword you’ve used, click class schedule, and then hit the “submit” button.

Make sure you’re doing this step for each keyword you’ve thought of, for more thorough research on the patents that apply to your product.

Step Three: Gather the Class Definitions

After you’ve gathered the schedule, it’s time to grab the class definitions.

So go back to the classification symbol lookup page, select USPC as your classification system again, enter the same symbols as you did before, select “Definitions” this time, then click “submit”.

Again, do this for each keyword you’ve deemed as one that applies to your product.

Step Four: Time to Search the Database

After you’ve filtered out which classes and sub-classes apply closest with your invention, it’s time to thoroughly read through each document in the USPTO database.

Be sure to pay close attention to the front page and all drawings that are displayed in the documents.

Do an in-depth review to see which patents are closest to your idea, and follow links to any other relevant patents that the patent applicant considered closely related to theirs.

Step Five: Retrieve U.S. Published Patents

Once you’ve retrieved all of those patents, it’s time to study them a second time.

Double down on reading and studying the drawings on their front pages, any additional drawings, all the specifications listed, and the claims that they describe.

Do Extensive Research on the Patents

It’s better to be thorough now, than sorry later.

Now that you know how to do a patent search, be sure to do exhaustive reading and studying on the patents that closely relate to your idea or invention.

Best of luck! Remember, your idea is original and creative; you just need to be respectful of those inventions out there that are protecting their idea as well.

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