I have an invention idea. What do I do to check that someone hasn’t already invented this idea?

Is My Idea Patented Already?

It’s simple for people to find out if an invention has already been patented. In reality, people who don’t take the time to check to see if their invention has previously been patented before continuing with the patent application process might lose a great deal of resources needlessly.

Patents grant you the legal authority to control the intellectual property (IP) connected to your concept or product, enabling you to take legal action if it is violated. Your idea is compared to existing patents and patents that are still pending by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

If your patent is too close to an existing invention, it will likely be rejected, costing you the application fee. If you present on the application of how your product or concept is unique and distinct, you may still be allowed to patent it even if you find notions that are similar to yours. Through the USPTO’s online database or in person at a local office, you can look up current patents.

There are Three Steps to Discover Whether an Idea is Patented Already.


Step 1

Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s official website. If there are any active patent applications or images, check them out using the “Full-Text and Image Database” search. For patents filed after 1975, you can locate submitted applications and images. Copies of documents and applications submitted between 1790 and 1975 may be searched. You can even look for current patents by using keywords that describe your invention. It’s crucial to confirm all possibilities that might apply to your concept.

Step 2

Locate the local Patent and Trademark Depository Library. The staff will assist you in conducting patent research and will respond to inquiries about whether your idea and an existing patent are similar. To locate a library in your state, use the library search feature on the official website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Step 3

Call 571-272-3275 to reach the USPTO’s Public Search Facility in Virginia for more information or to arrange a meeting at their location. You can access other patent search databases, some of which contain patents from countries other than the United States. Additionally, employees of the USPTO will offer free system coaching classes and analysis support.

How to Find Out If Someone Has Already Patented Your Idea

Let’s imagine you wish to patent a fantastic concept you have. As briefly noted above, the broad patent search is the initial step in the patenting of a concept. It is essential to understand the various patents already in use and how they apply to your idea. Finding out if you can obtain the desired patent requires conducting a patent search.

Searching is Easier than Ever

The USPTO permits patent searches across its entire database. Google and other providers index patents. In order to identify existing patents, inventors can use the internet to search sources, notably for a U.S. Patent search.

Repeating several patent searches with various keyphrases is advised. In order to find out if your innovation has previously been patented, search patent databases early on. Then you can alter your plans or come up with something new.


What to Look For

It’s crucial to understand the distinctive features of your concept or creation in order to successfully finish a search. You must determine what makes your system, service, or product special and wholly original. Create search terms or phrases using these tools.

Let’s imagine your product is a brand-new visor that blocks UV rays and charges headphones with solar energy. This invention’s dual focus on safety and utility makes it special. You should use keywords like “visor,” “solar,” and “headphones” while performing a patent search.

Expand your search terms by including all conceivable synonyms (e.g., hat OR caps and earbuds OR speakers). Search again and again to get a range of results. Note the search results and keep track of the number of hits for each search.

Hits and Misses

After thorough research, you find that nobody other has patented your invention. But you do come across a patent that is comparable. Someone created a stroller-specific equivalent of this clasp. Although it is entirely different from your idea, having an even larger spring and a clasp with a different shape, there are many similarities. Your search is crucial even if someone hasn’t been registered as patenting your invention. A patent has to be original.

The same invention that has already been patented cannot ever be patentable. The patent office can assert, using the stroller clasp as an example, that the size difference between your purse clasp and the stroller clasp is the sole real difference. When drafting your patent, it is best to include details that will make it simple to counter that your purse clasp shouldn’t be obvious. For example, perhaps the small size of the spring necessitates special materials or the clasp’s design must incorporate a specific angle.

It’s crucial to mention the patented stroller invention in your application. Mention it in your patent and include details that set your invention apart from the stroller clasp. Even if you are only filing an application for a provisional patent, conducting a patent search is essential.

Even though your idea has no active patents, you still need to be aware of what else is available.

How to Conduct a Patent Search to Make Sure Your Brilliant Invention Doesn’t Already Exist

What if someone else came up with the same idea and patented it first? How will you be sure your idea doesn’t already have a patent? You have two options to choose from:

1) You can hire a patent attorney to conduct a patent search for you (for a charge), or

2) You can do your own patent search.

Although it would take more effort and time, conducting a patent search independently could result in considerable financial savings that could be used to launch the services or goods of your dreams.

If you choose to conduct your own patent search, there are numerous internet resources that may help you navigate the varied and occasionally challenging aspects of the procedure.

Fortunately for you DIY types, the USPTO offers a list of the seven steps required to carry out a radical, effective search. The comprehensive, acronym-heavy text outlines each step you must take to submit an application for a patent and, ideally, win one.

How to Search a Patent

Radical patent searches are challenging to do, especially for a beginner. A skill that was identified is patent looking out. In the USA, a newbie might get in touch with the closest Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) and look for search specialists to help set up a search strategy. If you live near Washington, D.C., the Arlington, Virginia Search Amenities of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provide public access to collections of patents, trademarks, and other documents. It is possible, albeit challenging, for you to carry out your own patent search.

What is the Difference Between a Published Application and an Issued Patent?

Understanding the difference between a patent application that has been issued and one that has been published is crucial. Although it may do so in the future, a published patent application does not necessarily guarantee that it is an active one.

By examining the serial number that must be published on the patent application, you can quickly assess whether a patent is valid. The application year will be the first digit of this patent serial number, which will be followed by a slash and eight consecutive numbers (for example, 2011/01234567). An issued patent frequently just has seven numbers and does not specify a particular year.

Is the Patent Active?

When you receive a patent, the next thing to do is to make sure that it is still in effect—that is, that it hasn’t been abandoned or run out of time. The majority of the more than 8 million patents that have been issued to date have either expired owing to their age or have become abandoned patents for various reasons.

For their patents to remain in force, patent owners must continue to pay fees. A patent will become abandoned if these maintenance payments are not paid. Thankfully, the Public PAIR system includes a simple method to check whether the patent has become abandoned. You won’t be shown any expired patents by Public PAIR.

New patents are those that were submitted on or after June 8, 1995. The time frame for these more recent patents is 20 years beginning with the earliest filing date. Older patents, on the other hand, that were submitted before June 8, 1995, have a 17-year life duration from the date of issuance.

The expiration date of a patent that is still in force can occasionally be found using a patent calculator. A patent calculator won’t be much use, though, if you’re trying to determine the patent’s earliest effective filing date. Terminal Disclaimers and Patent Term Adjustments are not taken into account by patent calculators. Terminal Disclaimers, which are frequently written on the front of a patent and link a patent’s expiration date to another patent’s, may shorten a patent’s useful life.

Due to delays in the prosecution of the patent utility and to extend the time a patent is in force, the USPTO awards Patent Term Adjustments, which are also listed on the front of the designated patent.

The PAIR system will not indicate whether a patent has been found to be invalid due to litigation. It is therefore essential to consult a professional who is knowledgeable about how to conduct this verify and take into account the results.


You might be able to find the ideal choice, whether it be a licensing agreement or a patent acquisition, with the assistance of a patent attorney who focuses in licensing and acquisition negotiations. You can also work with an attorney to negotiate conditions for both kinds of agreements.

Don’t give up when a patent is discovered; frequently, patents are never implemented, and inventors are more than willing to consider innovative methods to market their product to the general public and earn money from it even if they are unable to do so themselves.

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