In this video, I am going to answer the question: Should you do your own patent search?

Doing your own Patent Search (aka – Prior Art Search)

Read the transcript.

Can an inventor do his or her own patent search? The answer is yes. You can do your own patent search. In fact, it is often a good idea to do your own patent search. Find out if your product already exists. Look on and other online retailers. You can use your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, or Yahoo) to search for your invention.

You search Google Patents for free!

In fact, Google has their own patent search where you can search specifically for issued patents and published patent applications. Disclaimer – I do not endorse Google Patents – information may not be up to date.

You can also do your own patent search on the US Patent Office website

You can also use the free patent search on the US Patent Office website. Here you can search for both issued patents and published patent applications, and this is generally going to be the most up-to-date database. Note, patents are published and issued by the US Patent Office every Tuesday. I believe you can search patents here going back to the first patent issued. The US Patent Office started publishing patent applications in March 2001.

There are also some paid databases for searching patents. You can also visit the US Patent Office in person and search their library of issued patents and published patent applications.

And don’t forget to search foreign databases. Most Patent Offices publish patent applications and issued patents, and most of these are available on free databases.

Should you do your own patent search?

It depends on your comfort level with your ability to use online databases and search on your own. Which database should you use? You may want to search more than one database.

Can you make a decision whether to file a patent application based only on your own patent search? I suggest at least talking to a patent attorney before making a decision to file a patent application. Even if your product seems to already be on the market, there may still be the possibility of filing a patent application.

A patent attorney should always interpret the search results – even the results of your own search. What if you find something and you think it’s too close to your invention? You may still be able to apply for a patent. You may be able to apply for narrow protection for a particular aspect of the invention.

I typically recommend that my clients do a professional patent search. Learn when to do a prior art search in this video. A patent attorney has the resources to do a patent search quickly, efficiently, effectively, and be able to interpret the references for you and give an opinion whether to file a patent application for an invention.

Be sure to discuss a professional patent search with your patent attorney.

Watch more patent attorney videos.