How to Do A Patent Search and the Three Rules
You can do a fine initial search on your own by going to google.com/patents and worldwide.espacenet.com. Type in key words starting with the most obvious ones that describe your invention idea. When you find something close, look at the citations and references and keep on drilling down. If you don't find something close, you're looking in the wrong places. Patents are about details and there's always prior art. Also check Alibaba and Amazon for products.
Keep in mind the three rules:
RULE #1: THERE IS ALWAYS PRIOR ART. The first rule of searching for prior art is that you should always find some. If you don't find something that's relevant to your invention idea than either you're looking in the wrong places or thinking about your invention too narrowly.
RULE #2: PATENTS ARE ABOUT DETAILS. The fact that you find something similar in prior art probably doesn't mean your invention idea is blocked. But it may mean that there are other good ways to do the same idea without violating a patent you might get.
RULE #3: PATENTS ARE COMPLICATED. When you get serious about patent protection you should get professional help.
If you'd like professional feedback on your invention check out our Brutally Honest Review.
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