Patent Search Steps
- List all key terms that describe the purpose, composition and use of the invention.
- Use the terms to find relevant patents and patent applications. Patent and patent applications can be searched using:
- USPTO Patent Search tool – search the terms in Patents and Patent Applications for “All Fields”, particularly Claims, Abstract, Title, and Description fields. More customized search queries can be run using USPTO Advanced Patent Search tool and USPTO Advanced Application Search tool. Initially search from 1976 to present, but later expand the search from 1790 to present, if needed, say for mechanical patents.
- European Patent Office’s (EPO) Worldwide Espacenet patent search tool – search US and non-U.S. patents worldwide.
- Google Patent Search tool – searching US and international patents and patent applications. In addition, non-patent literatures like published research papers can also be searched at the same time using Google Scholar.
- World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) PatentScrop.
- Search Patents and Applications by Country:
- Use this search to find initial relevant Cooperative Patent Classifications (CPC Class) and International Class.
- Search patent terms along with the CPC Class (US) or International Class to focus on patents and patent applications in related classes only.
- Short list relevant patents and patent applications by reading Titles and Abstracts and reviewing Drawings.
- Review the short listed patents and patent applications in depth by reading the abstract and the claims and reviewing the drawings. Also, read the description where the patent or patent application is a close match, or some clarification is needed. Prepare a more relevant short list.
- Review the patents and applications referenced by more relevant short-listed patents, and also the patents and applications referring them. Some of them would also be a close match and should be included in the more relevant short-list.
- Broaden the search by searching non-patent literature; for example, using Google Scholar, and other digital libraries like IEEE Xplore, ACM Digital Library, Microsoft Academic, etc.
USPTO has a suggested 7 step patent search strategy for conducting preliminary searches of U.S. patents and published applications.
Ask questions about patentability of your invention
Is my invention patentable? The invention is patentable only if it falls in one of these 4 categories: (1) a process; (2) a machine or device; (3) a composition of two or more matters; and (4) a tangible article resulting from manufacturing process. Ask more…
Is my invention too abstract? If the invention is not an abstract idea, a formula, a law of nature, an abstract process, a discovery in pure science, a natural phenomenon, a product of nature, or a similar abstract idea or item of nature then it is not patentable. Ask more…
Questions about patent filing and prosecution process
What is the patent process? Getting a patent involves the following steps (Ask more…)
- Check if the idea is patentable. Also check if somebody has already publicly disclosed the invention. This requires searching existing patents and other publications.
- Draft the patent application. This is the most difficult part, as it requires a lot of skill, particularly to draft the legally enforceable claims part of the patent application.
- File the patent application with Patent office, like US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- Respond to Patent office rejections and objects in timely manner. Patent examiner most of the times comes back with rejects to patent application, usually because the invention is obvious (35 U.S.C. §103) or already publicly disclosed (35 U.S.C. §102). Patent application is abandoned if those rejections are not responded with proper legal arguments.
- In the end, if the patent application is granted, pay the patent issue fee to the patent office. After issue fee is paid, the patent will be officially issued and you would have enforceable patent rights.
Questions about provisional patent application
Should I file a provisional patent application? File a provisional patent application through an experienced attorney only if you need to expedite the process by some days, not to save money. Ask more…
Does provisional patent application cost less? In the long run provisional patent application costs more, because a non-provisional patent application has to be filed within 1 year of the provisional patent application. The fees and expenses paid for provisional patent application becomes an additional expense. Ask more…
Can provisional patent application cause problems? A quickly filed provisional patent application without thorough review can cause problem later when filing non-provisional application, as somethings required disclosures, description, examples and drawings are not included. A thorough review of the invention after searching prior inventions and considering the legal claims can reveal required disclosures, description, examples and drawings. If these are not included in a provisional patent application, but later included in a non-provisional patent application they are considered new subject matter, and can only get the filing date of the non-provisional patent, which is typically about 1 year after the provisional patent filing date. Ask more…
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- Is it patentable, an abstract idea, a formula, or a product of nature?
- Is it public or obvious? Is it publicly available, or prior ideas be easily combined, substituted, or tried in obvious way?
- Should I file provisional or non-provisional application?
- Should I file utility or design application? What is the filing process?
- How about rejections, objections, reexamination, or appeal?
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- Don’t compromise – don’t limit patent scope.
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Client Testimonials about Our Services
The patent attorney has helped us with two patents. What impressed us the most is his expertise in both technicality and law. Our previous perception of working with patent lawyers was that they may do a good job in filing and negotiating, but when it comes to drafting and especially the iterations of revisions, it takes a lot of time and effort to explain to them and reach an agreement. In this case, he has the technical background comparable to that of the inventors, so we only needed the extent of details sufficient to communicate with a co-inventor/colleague. In particular, in the process of drafting, he was clear about the key point of each claim and how the system works, and able to make the modifications to satisfy the filing requirements. When later we had to revise the claims a few times, he always managed to make the best trade-off possible that addressed the patent examiner’s challenges, while not hurting the scope and value of the invention. With the complexity already time-consuming for us (as required by filing a patent), he could even maintain a turnaround of a day or just several hours.
Moreover, his helpfulness was also reflected in the sense that he made us convinced and understood the rationale of each decision point, instead of just making the changes on his own, so that we as the inventors can be synced and participate to achieve a better outcome. In the long term, what we’ve learned from him, the legal aspects and best practices, will facilitate our future research and production of inventions, as we were not well aware of these before.
Overall, during the whole process of both patents, we never felt that we were trying to “use” a patent lawyer, but just interacting with another co-inventor, in terms of: ownership, hard work, knowledge and ease of communication.
L. Zhao (Carleton University, Canada) and M. Mannan (Concordia University, Canada)