Since all inventions are part of what is broadly termed as ‘intellectual property’, it is important to know the various types of intellectual property which exists, before undertaking any invention search. There are three different types of intellectual property: Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights. They are not only different concepts but serve different purposes of inventions also. For protecting any brand new invention or an improvement to existing invention, one needs a patent.
Trademarks are used to identify or distinguish any word, name, symbol, device, or a combination of these which is meant to be used commercially. Trademarks help users to identify a manufacturer or marketer. It helps us to differentiate one company from another. Any literary, artistic or musical work is a type of intellectual property which is protected by copyright. Thus before doing an invention search, you must know which type of intellectual property your invention belongs to. There are patenting agencies that offer help for new inventors in patenting process.
To know whether your invention is already patented or not you could perform a preliminary invention search using many formats like online, microfilm or print available at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Public Search Facility located in Alexandria, VA. Here you can use fully automated invention search tools through which you can access patents issued from 1790 to the current week. You could even search the full document texts on U.S. patents issued since 1971 and OCR text from 1920 to 1970.
Patent images issued from 1790 to the present may be retrieved for viewing or printing. Foreign patent documents are also available. Microfilm or optical disc format may be used if you wish to search a complete patent file arranged in numeric sequence. Gazettes, Annual Index of Inventors, Manual of Classification according to subject matter and other invention search tools are readily available for a public user.
An invention search or the patent process is usually a complicated and laborious process. One of the best options for a thorough invention search would be to hire the services of good patent agencies, such as Invent Help – learn more about InventHelp, and attorneys who can lend professional help and advice in the matter. The USPTO maintains a national register of patent attorneys and agents who offer legal, scientific and technical assistance to the inventor.
One of the first points to remember when undertaking an invention search is that inventions are classified according to their method of action and not the purpose of invention, or their intended use.
To find the class and subclass numbers, you have to use the Index to US Patent Classifications. This is because all patents are arranged according to hierarchical groups called class or subclass. So using this grouping you can have an overview of all patents issued to inventions which function in a manner similar to yours.
In case you have made some incorrect classifications, there are useful referrals which can help you choose the right classification and rectify your error.
There are scientific abstracts and bibliography for each patent classification, which are identified with different numbers. You can make notes of the numbers and study those which match the way your invention works. One you have identified the patents which come close to your invention, then search for the differences in your invention, which separates yours from those already patented.
If your invention search results in fining a patent that works the same way as your invention, you may not file a patent application.