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Can I Do a Patent Search by Myself?

  • Oct 15 2020

When you have created an invention, filing a patent can help afford protection from others. But in order to be granted a patent, you must be sure that someone else has not already filed for the same patent; your invention must be original. In a way to determine originality, you can search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Web Patent Databases, which houses U.S. patents from 1790 onward. 

The average patent search generally takes many, many hours to complete, but searching the USPTO is a great place to start. To learn about more extensive searches, it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced patent attorney

How to Conduct a Patent Search

So what are the ways in which you can conduct your preliminary patent search?

1. Search by Patent Number

While not your likeliest option, if you see an invention that has a patent number on it that you believe is similar to your invention; you can search the patent by number. You may be able to find the patent number on the box that the object comes in, or on the object itself. While some patents may consist of only numbers (e.g. 3,485,273), while others may consist of letters and numbers (e.g. D0000135).

2. Search by the Inventor’s Name

Another unlikely preliminary search you can do is to look for a patent by the inventor’s name. Not only would you need to know the name of the inventor, which isn’t always easy, but also you would only be able to search online for those inventors who invented something within the last 20 years prior to the expiration of their patent.  You must search by patent number for anything older than 20 years. 

3. Search Using Words

One of the likeliest ways in which you may search for a patent is by using words. You can do a preliminary patent search to see if someone else has patented the same invention already, by descriptive words. You can begin by jotting down all the words that you can think of that describe your invention. When brainstorming these words, bear in mind the following questions:

  • How does the invention work/what does it do?
  • What problem does the invention solve?
  • What material is your invention made of?

You’ll want to search by those words that are more specific, describing a certain unique type of invention, rather than those that could be descriptive of many other things. You will then use your list of words as the “keywords” to enter to search. 

While these three methods can certainly be used to conduct a preliminary search of your invention, they are only intended for just that: a preliminary search. Ensuring that someone else has not already patented your invention is an extremely intricate and thorough process that would be best executed with the assistance of an experienced patent attorney. He or she will be able to do an in-depth search on your behalf in order to help you to decide if it makes sense to move forward and if there are any rights to which you may be entitled. 

Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser Can Help Protect Your Inventions and Your Rights

If you or a loved one has an invention that you wish to have protected, or if you have an existing patent that you believe is being infringed upon, the qualified patent attorneys at Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser, can help you to navigate the patent application process or can help to defend your patent and your rights regarding any infringement. To learn more about the patent prosecution process or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Patents

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