If you’re a business entrepeneur based in New York looking to patent an idea or determine if someone already holds a patent on it, you'll want to know how to get started on a patent lookup. There are some areas from which to start in the patent search process. This guide will help you understand the various components of beginning a patent search, the various types of patents, and the best resources to help you.

Overview of Patent Lookup

Patent lookup is a search tool that allows you to discover who owns a patent for an invention or process. Specifically, you can determine who holds a patent on the idea, what the patent covers, and how to find relevant legal information on the patent. Patent lookup is especially important for entrepeneurs who are looking to protect their inventions from competitors. If you don’t know who owns a patent on an invention you’re interested in developing, you could be taking someone else’s product to market and risk legal action.

Start by Knowing Which Type of Patent You Need to Search

There are several different types of patents. The first step in a patent lookup is to separate the types of patents and understand the legal ramifications of each. There are three main types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

A utility patent covers the physical qualities of an invention. It protects the inventor’s “right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention." Intellectual property (IP) law requires that a utility patent have three primary features:

1. Novelty – It must be unique from existing inventions.

2. Utility – It must have a practical application.

3. Non-obviousness – It must not be a slight variation of something that already exists.

Design patents cover the ornamental aspects of a product. For instance, a design patent would be filed to cover the specific shape and visuals of an object, not its function. To qualify for a design patent, an invention must meet three requirements:

1. Novelty – It must be unique from existing inventions.

2. Ornamentality – It must be seen as decorative or aesthetic.

3. Non-obviousness – It must not be a slight variation of something that already exists.

A plant patent is similar to a design patent but for specific plants. A unique variety or species created through selective breeding can be patented as long as it is asexually reproduced and meets certain regulations.

Search for Patents With the United States Patent and Trademark Office

As the official entity responsible for registering and granting patents in the United States, the USPTO website is the best place to begin a patent lookup. Using their search tool, you can look up patents and find information including the inventor, assignee (the person or company to whom the invention can be attributed), drawings that describe the patent, priority dates when the patent was first filed, and more. You can also access USPTO patents on other search engines like Google Patents or Espacenet.

Understand How to Perform a Comprehensive Patent Search

The patent lookup process is a complex multi-step process that typically involves consulting a patent attorney. The search should begin with the USPTO database to find exactly what you are looking for and then continue using databases like the U.S. Copyright Office as well as professional services. Additionally, you may need to rely on other resources such as trade magazines or periodicals. For an even more comprehensive patent lookup, you can also consult a lawyer.

Find a New York Attorney Specializing in Patent Lookup

When dealing with a patent search in New York, it's best to consult with a local lawyer who specializes in patent law. It's important to find an attorney who is experienced in patent law and familiar with the local jurisdiction. At UpCounsel, you'll find a network of experienced attorneys who can provide high quality, cost-effective legal services.

The core message

Getting started on a patent lookup can be a complicated process, but understanding the types of patents, where to search, and how to conduct a comprehensive patent search are important first steps. Additionally, consulting with a local attorney who specializes in patent law ensures that you understand the regulations for your area and get the best legal advice available.


Patent Lookup,


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