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Patent Searches, Their Importance, and Using the Right Tools

A patent search reveals whether or not you should go for a patent on your invention. If you see that someone else has a patent for an identical invention, you can stop right there and consider other options. Perhaps you can introduce different useful features to your product so that it qualifies as unique and therefore patentable.

You can always hire a patent search professional to take care of this job for you, but know that this option tends to be pricey. On the other hand, there are several tools available that can help you run a search yourself.

Patent search tools will help you run a patent search more efficiently, even providing ideas on what your competitors are working on. This type of software allows you to sort through existing patents, patent applications and information about inventions that have remained unpatented.

Free vs. Paid
The two main types of patent search software are free and paid.

The free ones can help you begin with your search, but problem is, you won’t have anyone to help you out in case you have difficulties. Free tools may also not be updated, so the accuracy of your results cannot be guaranteed. If accuracy is not something you can compromise on, it’s worth investing in paid software.

Searching Patents on Google

The best advantage to searching patents with Google is that you receive your results rather fast. However, you may find that search features are not equally advanced as the paid tools come with. Another disadvantage is that the Google database may miss some patents, especially the latest ones. But it is still useful for obtaining information that stretches way back in time.

General Patent Search Tips

> Don’t stop at simple keyword searches. Make use of the advanced options and the specification field.

> Start your search with more general terms, then narrow down as you move along.

> Play with various keywords. There can be so many patent descriptions of similar inventions.

> Patiently scan through search results. Some will be relevant and others not.

> Take note of what you find. You should have a file where you mark anything that’s interesting.

> If you would still want to bring in a professional patent searcher, at least do a preliminary search before doing so. This means less time for them to work and, therefore, less cost.

Patent searching isn’t rocket science, but it can consume a lot of time, especially if you haven’t done it before. Using the right software helps you do the task with greater efficiency.
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