4 Ways You Can Complete A U.S. Invention Patent Search

What is the first step in obtaining an invention patent? You must find out if somebody has already patented that idea? If the invention’s been patented, you’re pretty much out of luck. The simplest way to learn this is to do an Internet patent search.

Why Does This Matter?

The first person to design an invention in the United States is the one that gets the patent. When you have a patent, you have a monopoly over its use for the last 20 years from the patent’s date application. This monopoly could end up rewarding you with big money.

It wasn’t that long ago that people needed an attorney or professional patent searcher to do the search for them. This typically costs $500 or more. In fact, it was typically far much more. Many inventors were often discouraged because of the expense.

1 - Internet Patent Searches

The Internet makes it far easier to do a patent search, whenever you want with little cost and effort.  This comes in the form of checking out the U.S Patent and Trademark Office as the first stop.  You can do this by checking out www.uspto.gov to search for patents. The system will allow you to do three things:

- Search patents going back to 1976
- Search patent applications from as far back as March 2001
- Do bibliographic searches

You’ll be able to download, view and print images of all patents before 1976 in mere minutes with a high-speed data line. Keep in mind that everything is free until you want something sent by mail.

2 – Google Patents

Check out www.google.com/patents is another worthwhile source to find U.S. patents dating back to the 1790s, which is when the system was started. Google Patents tends to offer older patents than the USPTO. Many folks tend to like the Google site better than the official government site.

3 – Patent Searching Companies

You also have several patent searching companies you could hire (for a fee) to you the searching for you. They include:


Don’t have Internet access at your home or place of business? Use a public library’s Internet access to find the information you need.

4 – Offline Patent Searches

Maybe you don’t like the idea of doing online patent searching. That’s okay! You can still search for what you need the old fashion way.

Another great resource for a patent search is the Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries, as these libraries are generally well-stocked. They don’t just have patent materials; they also have reference librarians who can guide you through the process. All states have one; thus, you can find your states library at www.uspto.gov/go/ptdl.