Questions & Answers from Patent Lawyer; Denver’s Mark Trenner.

Part 4 of 10

Okay, so if I have a new invention, I should file a patent application, right?


Not so quick. Do you know your invention is new?


I think it is.


But a lot of people think their invention is new. Many are often surprised to find out someone else already has their exact same product, or a product that is very close to theirs.


So how do I find out if my invention is new?


There are several fairly straightforward (and inexpensive) strategies an inventor can use to find out if their idea already exists. A good place to start is with a general Internet search (Google, Bing, Yahoo). Try to be as descriptive of your invention as possible when choosing your keywords (without being overly narrow so that you miss relevant ideas).


What about other online sources?

Yes, check out online retailers who sell related product lines. Check and other online retailers. If your idea is for a specialty product, check with specialty retailers. For example, if your idea is for an electrician’s tool, check with electrician suppliers.

If you don’t find your product online, try heading down to your local department store, and ask the salesperson where they carry products that are similar to your idea (but don’t tell the salesperson what your idea is!). Then browse that section of the store. You might be surprised what someone else has already thought of. You may just have never seen it, because, well, you weren’t looking until you had this idea!