Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Searching US Patents and other Invention topics.
These days we can do just about anything on our computers: find a restaurant, pay a bill, learn the history of the boomerang. But, should you rely solely on your computer to conduct a patent search prior to submitting your patent to the US Patent and Trademark Office? Many experts say no. If you want to get a patent for a new invention idea you have, you have to prove nothing else has been invented that is the same, even if those inventions never received a patent.
Because online patent searches will only yield patents granted prior to 1971, you could be missing a lot of information if you conduct a patent search exclusively on the Internet. Additionally, computerized patent searches have other drawbacks. If you enter certain search words relevant to your invention, you could receive thousands of possibilities and many of them may not even be in your related development field. Or, you could narrow your search and miss relevant patents that have already been granted.
Finally, if you know of a patent you want to search, you could see a drawing online but it may not be adequate to tell you if your idea warrants an additional invention patent. Free online patent searches are still worth pursuing as part of your complete patent search--such as those offered by the US Patent and Trademark Office. But make sure you pursue other avenues as well. Remember, you may spend hours searching patents and all that time would be wasted if your search is not efficient and your patent application gets denied as a result.