Archive for the ‘Market Research’ Category

How to Conduct a Patent Search

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Patent Search One of the most common obstacles facing the new inventor is how to conduct a patent search. There are many reasons why an inventor would want to do this. The most obvious reason is to justify spending a great deal of time and money on an invention by determining that no one else has patented it. You may even have a specific patent number that you want to investigate further for any similarities to your project. Whatever the reason may be, the ins and outs of conducting a patent search are not always obvious. In this guide, we will explain how to do so in easy to follow steps.

How to Conduct a Patent Search Video

How to Conduct a Patent Search Step One:

Narrow your search to a 5-15 very specific names. This is a crucial yet oft-overlooked step in the patent search process. Before running any type of search, anywhere, you need to narrow your search to a handful of very specific names. This is because the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) demands specificity. The vaguer a patent is the more control the holder can exercise over the market. Therefore, there is an immense burden on patent applicants to be as narrow and specific about the nature of their patent as possible. You need to heed this fact when running a patent search. For example, if the patent you are looking for pertains to an online shopping database that ties a user’s shopping preferences to his shopping history, running a search for “online shopping database” is almost pointless in this context. It will return more results than you could possibly screen, and few if any will be relevant to what you are looking for.

Instead, a much better search would be something like “online shopping history based matching metrics.” The closer you can get to describing what the patent truly protects, the more helpful your search results will be. Simply think long and hard about what you are looking for and come up with 5-15 very specific potential names for it. These are the names you will use to conduct your search.

How to Conduct a Patent Search Step Two:

Run the search via the USPTO’s official website. It used to be that the only way to run a patent search was hiring a patent attorney. Prior to the advent of the Internet, these attorneys had a near exclusive monopoly on running searches and doing all manner of patent-related work. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Anyone who wants to run a patent search can visit the USPTO website and do so in a simple, self-service fashion. There are a couple of options at this page that you can use depending on your exact needs. If you just want to run a cursory search for the patent you have in mind, the Quick Search will work wonders. From here, you can type in two descriptive terms and specify the years between which you would like to search: either 1976 to the present or 1790 to the present. Now, common sense will go a long way towards making your life easier in this regard. If the patent you are searching for is in any way high-tech, you can filter out a lot of irrelevant results by choosing the “1976 to the present” option. However, if your invention is timeless or mechanical in nature, the full “1790 to the present” option is probably best. You can also drill down into the patent database for the exact type of information you want. Clicking the “All Fields” drop-down menu turns up a cavalcade of search options. You can search for the abstract, the issue date, patent number, assignee name and city, and about a dozen other options.


However, what if you already have a patent number and just want to see information about what it pertains to? This link takes you straight to a patent number search. Just key in the number and click “Search” to find the full text of the patent in question. SRC: Now, you may notice in using these pages that the USPTO’s website is not the most user-friendly resource out there. Luckily, there is an easier way: Google Patent Search. The reason we covered the USPTO’s site first (or at all) rather than Google is because this is the official first source of all patent-related data. While Google is by all counts reliable, you should use the USPTO’s site if there are any worries about gaps in the patent records you are seeking.

How to Conduct a Patent Search Step 3:

Use Google Patent Search Google Patent Search is a beta service that combines the easy searching of Google with the patent data from the USPTO. That is the true beauty of using Google instead of the USPTO: your search results and patent profiles are significantly cleaner, more readable and easier on the eyes.


As a demonstration, we will run a search for the patent on the electrophotographic copier, or “copy machine.”

As you can see, the page is very helpfully divided up into distinct sections, making it easy for you to find the information you are interested it. You can choose to download the whole patent, view it as an Adobe PDF document, or even click a direct link to the USPTO’s record. On this same page, you can also view the patent’s list of citations, the claims it makes, and the drawings the patent holder accompanied with his patent application. Again, while these things can be found at the USPTO site, those unfamiliar with patent records will waste hours looking for what Google organizes so readily.

There you have it: three simple steps to conducting a patent search. Above all, remember that the more specific your searches are, the more likely you are to find the patent you want – or – the more justification you will have to conclude that no one has your patent, if the search comes up empty. Good luck!

Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of, a marketplace for new technology and products that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at You can visit the site by clicking here > Patents for Sale.

Need Assistance? Call us at 832-683-1527

Patent Research- Checklist Week 3

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Research is Key!

Last week’s focus was on creating a prototype and drawings for your invention. This week, we will discuss how crucial it is for you to research everything about your invention. Because next Thursday is a holiday, we will be sending out the newsletter on Wednesday, so watch for it a day early!


Being told to research may remind you of being in school and preparing to write a report. Well that is basically what you will be doing. Hopefully this won’t turn you off to the idea of it, because it is so important for your invention.

Now that the internet has made it so easy to access information, at times it can make us forget about the good old fashioned LIBRARY. I would recommend using both. The library has a lot of the same information that the internet has, but it will always be free. With the reliance upon internet search engines, companies have begun to charge you for information that was certainly published in a book, and that book is probably sitting at your local library.

Here are some search engines that I would recommend using, other than our beloved Google.

    1. The Thomas Register

The Thomas Register is a great tool for specified searches on manufacturers and suppliers.

    2. Hoovers

Hoovers offers a searchable database of companies, executives, and expert advice.


IndustrySearch is a great resource if you are looking to do market research on the tech or manufacturing sectors.

If these websites do not allow you to find the information below, try visiting the library.

With that in mind, let’s talk about what you should be researching. If you haven’t done one already, you certainly need to start with a search on potential competition. Some of you may be saying that your product is the first of its kind so it won’t have competition… WRONG!

You created your invention to solve a problem. Chances are there is already something on the marketplace that is currently being used to solve that same problem.

Research that product and the companies that it is affiliated with. Find out how long it has been on the market, how it is being manufactured, sold, and distributed. Write up a summary of the information that you have found, it may even be beneficial to do a comparison with your product.

After analyzing the results you may consider placing your product on a similar path.

Using your competitor as an example, you will need to find out who your potential users are, down to demographics. Demographics for the consumers of your industry can be found when doing your industry research. Before you begin that, start by asking yourself who is going to want to use your product and why? Try to narrow down as much as possible, WHO your target buyer is.

Start your industry research by narrowing down what industry your product should be placed in. Get as specific as possible. For instance, if you have invented a new type of pencil, you might consider your product being sold in through the office supply industry. An industry more specific to your product like writing utensils would be more beneficial. Specificity allows for more opportunities. Consider if you had gone with office supplies as your industry, you would have lost out on the school supply market.

The market that you are going to be supplying your product to is constantly changing. Some markets change with consumer spending, and some don’t. Some markets only last a year. It is extremely important for you to research the market’s history, and the anticipated changes that the market may go through. These changes will affect your product, so they are extremely important to be aware of.

Industry and market research can be frustrating and time consuming. As an added down side, much of the information on the internet is usually not free. Here is a tip for finding out information about your market or industry:

Find out what publications are specific to your product. Think about which of them would have the same or similar target audience. Look at the media kits and advertising information that they are providing for their advertisers. They have already paid to have this information researched and typically, they are placed on the website.

This write-up of all of the research you have conducted, will be a great tool in your decision making process, and also something you can use in a presentation for potential buyers or investors.

This week: In-depth Research… CHECK!

Next week: The materials needed for a great presentation!

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at

How to Conduct a Patent Search Online

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

For an inventor, conducting a patent search is one of the most important steps in preparing to patent an invention. It is fundamental in determining the similarity of your idea to the ideas of past innovators and in ensuring you have a thoroughly researched and documented patent application. Luckily, there are a couple of online resources that make patent searching both convenient and easy.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers the most comprehensive and precise collection of past patents available for review online. These entries date back as early as 1790 and offer descriptions and, in many entries, images of the invention. This directory, however, requires a few searching techniques to accurately find information that you are looking for.

According to the experts at, there are three different ways to search for a patent in the USPTO search database. The first and simplest way begins with a patent number search. Patent numbers can be found on various patented inventions, on its packaging, or in its instruction manual. In most cases this patent number will be in a standard number format with comma separators but, depending on the type of patent, may begin with letters.

In this search, all you must do is enter the number in the “query” field and press “search.” The results page will contain the patent entry for that number. Not only is this process extremely easy, but it is also the most thorough. A search conducted by patent number allows the oldest online searches in the USPTO database and is the only search that goes back further than 20 years.

A search by patent number usually works great, unless you don’t know the patent number of the invention. In that case, a search by inventor’s name might be a better option. If you know the first and last name of the inventor, this type of search is easy as long as you know how to format the query. The proper way is: in/lastname-firstname-$, where “$” means any middle name. If you know the middle name of the inventor, replace the “$” with that. The results for this type of search will list the inventions by any inventor with that name. On a side note, this method will not be as accurate for extremely common names.

The last and most general method of searching for patents on the USPTO database is by keyword. This method allows an inventor to easily use words that relate to their idea to find similar prior inventions. You must first begin with a thorough list of words that relate to the types of inventions you are looking for. Then, narrow down the list to one or two words that you feel best uniquely describe what you are looking for. Enter the first word into “field 1” and, if you have one, the second into “field 2.” Then, if you used more than one word, you must specify how you would like the search to relate those words by using “and,” “or,” or “andnot” from the dropdown list. You may also use keyword phrases by inserting quotation marks around a phrase. This may yield more precise results.

The results, however, will not be nearly as specific as the previous two types of patent searches. You will most likely have a long list of entries that will need to be picked through to find what you are truly looking for. If you are looking for a particular patent, try to stick to the other searches.

While these are the most traditional ways to conduct online patent searches, a new, more convenient method has become available through search giant Google. They have recently launched a website called Google Patent Search. According to Google, this search engine holds detailed information for around 7 million patents and also includes simple searches for patents older than 20 years, unlike those on the USPTO search page. All of the inventions are cataloged and hosted on Google webpages which allows for uniform entries and an easily searchable database. Also, all information is obtained from USPTO records to ensure accurate entries. For those who like more traditional USPTO information, the Google patent search entries actually have links to their corresponding USPTO entries.

The methods of searching on the Google site are extremely straightforward. The simple search on the Google Patent Search homepage is run like any Google site, allowing keyword entry and results listed by relevance. If you have more specific information such as patent number or inventor’s name, a specific search can be performed from the advanced search page. This search engine has made the patent search process extremely quick and simple.

Patent searches are extremely beneficial to an innovator’s goal of patenting an invention. The painstaking process, while sometimes a hassle, can be very important in determining whether or not an invention truly is a novel idea. Just stick with these resources and this overwhelming process will undoubtedly be made much simpler.

This article is provided for your personal use by Idea Buyer is the online marketplace for intellectual property and gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and retailers who are looking for new products to bring to market.

Please do not redistribute or reproduce this article without written permission.

Free Patent Searches

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Free Patent SearchesFree patent searches can be conducted online through the USPTO website or through the Google patent search platform. While we do advise having a patent attorney perform a patent search on your behalf, it is helpful to first perform free patent searches before you start spending money.

The first thing you should do is to document and then begin performing searches to find similar intellectual property. Given the history of innovation in our country, you will likely find prior art for nearly every patent idea. However, even similar patents may not keep you from receiving a patent as long as your invention is truly unique.

Given that most patent databases outside of the USPTO’s are limited in their scope, I would recommend that you search it first. You must educate yourself so that your free patent searches are not futile. There are many guides on how to conduct patent searches.

So, you will want to first conduct your free patent searches. If the invention idea is unique, you would then contact a patent attorney to perform a full patent search on your behalf. These patent searches will come with a fee so make sure you have a budget ready.

If you are looking at filing a patent, Idea Buyer will be happy to point you in the right direction for free patent searches. Simply email us at and you will receive a reply within 12 business hours.

Performing a Patent Search

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Performing a Patent SearchOne of the basic steps that need to be taken prior to applying for a patent is doing a search to ensure that there are no existing patents that would conflict with your filing. You can either perform this search by yourself for free or hire an attorney to do a patent search and file a provisional patent application. Note that we don’t require you to have a patent to list on our site but it is up to you to protect your idea using partial disclosure or a non-disclosure agreement while talking to potential buyers. You should consult your attorney for any legal advice.

Do It Yourself

  • The USPTO Patent Search is free: A little complex but it provides a lot of information along the way if you are patient.

Service Providers:
We offer discounted patent services to our members. For more information, call us at 832-683-1527.