I’ve found the easiest way to do a preliminary patent search is to do a Google Patent search. You can put in a simple search term and then work from its database to get a good idea if your product idea has already been patented. This search won’t necessarily reveal every other patent but it is a good start. Another good aspect of the Google patent search site is that it lists the patents pending that are published by the patent office but haven’t yet been issued.
To get the most out of a Google search you can’t just put in the name of your idea and then do a Google search. That will leave out far too many patents where the patent application uses different terms than yours. You need to look instead at all the citations listed in the patents to find out more.
To give you a better idea of how to get the maximum benefit, I’ve listed all the steps and procedures for an inventor who came up with the idea of having an electric plug where a child could not pull the plug out of a socket. Continue reading