Which patent database should you choose? How do you search effectively to find the relevant competing patents to your idea and compare them to your idea?
There are a variety of patent databases that can easily be searched to find competing patents using keywords that are relevant to your idea or searching for patents granted to inventors or companies that you know make products that are similar to your idea:
Other patent databases are available; simply search for them on the internet and find which database you find easiest to use and gives you the best result.
The simplest search system is to enter keywords and look through the results to find inventions that are similar to your idea.
It is a good idea to brainstorm key words that you associate with your idea before beginning your search.
Put your keywords or a combination of two or more keywords if you are getting too many search results and review the patents that appear in the search results.
Every patent has an abstract that summarises the invention and will quickly determine whether the invention has features that are similar to your idea.
If the patent appears to be relevant, search the patent document to find the context of your keywords. Some people find http://www.freepatentsonline.com/ the simplest website to use for this.
Patents must reference previous patents with similar features, which creates a good source of potentially competing patents for you to review.
A PDF copy of relevant patents should be saved to your computer and I would recommend creating a folder for storing all relevant patents and a document naming system that you are happy with such as ‘Patent Smith Helium Filled Dartboard’ or ‘Smith Dartboard 01.12.11’. It doesn’t matter how you name your documents so long as you know how to find them again and which document you are looking at from the title.
The patents also have a classification system http://www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc/en/. When you have found a similar patent to your idea, you can search for other patents filed under that classification system. This can be a smart way of patent searching as some inventors use obtuse and unfamiliar words to try and hide their patent but they cannot hide the classification of their patent.
August 24, 2012