As patent attorneys, we have access to subscription-based services that allow us to perform very refined searches of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) patent database. Moreover, we also utilize the services of professional patent search agents, many of whom use the same computerized search system that the patent examiners use. One or both of these approaches may be used to perform in-depth preliminary patentabiltity searches when evaluating new inventions for clients.
However, there are several good publicly-available databases where you can perform a basic search and review of issued US patents and printed patent publications. One of these is the USPTO’s web interface. While not as flexible in its search capabilities as some of the paid subscription services or the USPTO’s examiner search tool, it does allow searching of specific fields, such as the inventor, assignee, and even the legal representative (hint: this is one way to check the types of clients and technologies a patent practitioner or law firm works with – check our firm out here).
Another free search tool is Google Patents. Again, while it may not have as many sophisticated search capabilities as a subscription service, it is extremely easy to use. Give them a try, and explore the treasure trove of inventions in the USPTO patent records.
These can be very helpful but if you find yourself needing professional help, please contact the patent attorneys at the High Tech Group of Allen Dyer.
We also wanted to include a walk-through of the patent search process by David Carus.