Those don’t have to be the only reasons to do a patent search, however. According to the McKinney Engineering Library at the University of Texas, there are other benefits:
- getting a general idea of how an application and patent is structured to help in the preparation or your own application
- learning more about a new field
- for market information
- competitor tracking
- technology tracking
Searching for a patent in that humongous sea of complicated patents can be daunting. Fortunately, the William and John Schreyer Business Library of Penn State University offers a patent searching tutorial.
How daunting can this process be?
For example, patent examiners at the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) spend about twelve hours investigating each patent application to determine whether the invention it describes is patentable. During that time, the examiner consults an average of thirty-eight databases containing patent and non-patent literature to determine whether the invention has ever before been described.
Daunting. It’s worth checking out that tutorial if you’re going to do a patent search yourself. If not, you can hire a patent attorney.
But what if you’re bootstrapping? According to Inc. Magazine’s article “Can You Get a Patent without a Lawyer?“, the answer is YES. “Patent searching is confusing at first, but can be mastered with practice,” writes the author. “It is a research rather than a legal skill.”
Where can you begin your bootstrapped patent search operation? Why, online, of course! Here are some handy online patent search engines:
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- Google Patent Search
- Patent Genius
Good luck with your patent search!