1. Easy Patent Search
2. Pros Associated with an Easy Patent Search
3. Cons Associated with an Easy Patent Search
4. Steps for an Easy Patent Search
5. FAQs

An easy patent search is performed by investigating other existing patents that may be similar to your own. By doing so, you can determine if your product/invention has already been claimed. The patent, which is a legal entitlement, allows the owner of the patent to obtain the rights to that product, preventing others from replicating it for profit. 

As part of the Department of Commerce, patents are approved, managed, and directed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Conducting a patent search has many benefits, which include some of the following:

  • A patent search allows you to examine numerous patents, which gives you the opportunity to view other similar inventions. This allows you to review/analyze your own product/invention and make any improvements. 
  • Performing an online patent search on your own reduces the cost when using the free search services available at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • An advantage of doing an easy patent search is to determine if your idea/invention is available to be patented or if a patent has already been approved for the same idea/invention for someone else.
  • Major cities in the U.S. have libraries maintained by the USPTO where you can use the resources to search for patents as well as view microfilm and have access to hard copies of the patents on file.

While there are positive points in doing an easy patent search, there are also disadvantages such as:

  • Many times, those who perform their own patent searches fail to locate other similar patents that a professional service would have located.
  • The USPTO database allows searches back to 1976. Patents issued before that date can be searched but the options are limited.
  1. Determine the category of patent you are trying to locate at the USPTO website. The three types are design, plant, and utility patents. Identifying the type applicable to your product/invention will make finding similar patents much easier.
  2. Decide why you are conducting the search and which approach to take. For example, if you're verifying information, state-of-the-art and novelty searches are viable options. For legal-based searches, a validity or infringement search is appropriate. 
  3. Utilize the Advanced Search option, which allows you to conduct a more in-depth search and improves your chances for better search results.
  4. Do multiple searches using a variety of keywords applicable to your product/invention. Doing so increases your chances of securing accurate search results.


Q. What are the types of patents managed by the USPTO?

A. The United States Patent and Trademark Office handles three patent categories: plant patents, utility patents, and design patents. The plant patent is for new plants grown asexually by using a graft or with cuttings. Genetically engineered plants are not included under this patent. They are considered for utility patents. Design patents cover upgrades and enhancements to the appearance of an existing invention/product without changing the way it functions. The utility patent is the one requested most often. These patents are used to cover products/inventions that have been improved to function in a new or different way.

Q. Are there other options to search for patents?

A. Yes. Besides using the database at the USPTO, Google also has a patent search option that is fast and has information dating back to the first patent. Resources maintained by the USPTO are the Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries. This network of libraries covers patents from the first to the last issued. The libraries have a plethora of patent materials and reference librarians available to answer any questions.

Q. After filing my application for a patent, how long is the waiting period?

A. Once you file your patent, the waiting period can run from six to 18 months before a patent inspector reviews your application. The entire process of filing the application to receiving a patent can take anywhere from 16 to 36 months.

Q. Is a trademark the same as a patent?

A. No. A trademark is not the same thing as a patent. It is a word, symbol, or icon associated with a specific product or service.

If you need help with an easy patent search, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from renowned law schools, such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.