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.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has a unique system for obtaining information on patents called Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) System. It may be especially useful in obtaining information about the patent activity of your competitors. If you know the patent number of a competitor's patent, you can use PAIR to get more detailed information about that patent than can be obtained by doing a traditional search on the patent office website.
The period of time that a person is trying to obtain a patent is called the prosecution. All of the related documentation sent to the patent office is accumlated in what is called a file wrapper. You can use this documentation to glean more insight for a patent infringement analysis. You can sometimes obtain information about related patents this way as well as biographical information about the patent and its entire file history.