Patent Research Made Easy

By Chad Stamper, Director of Technology Commercialization,
Illinois Small Business Development Center

So you have a great new invention idea, now what?  There are a number of steps that will help you reduce your financial risk and increase your chances of making proper decisions about moving forward. 

One of the next steps you should take before investing in hiring a patent attorney is to do your own due diligence. Not seeing something on the shelves at your local store or via a web search doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been invented. Take the time to do the research, and you may be surprised at what you find.  A few tools for patent research include using the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website (USPTO.gov), Google, and the Turner Center at Bradley University.  You can access USPTO.gov online and use their patent tool to search for US patents and patent applications. The USPTO.gov is a little more challenging than other search engines, but with practice, you can find a lot of relevant information related to your queries.

One of the great tools for doing your own patent research is Google.  That’s right, go to www.google.com/patents, and you can use Google’s engine to identify U.S. patents on file at the USPTO.  One suggestion is to familiarize yourself with broad or scientific terms related to your invention and use multiple terms in your search. For example, search “an apparatus for catching mice” in addition to simply searching for “mouse trap.” This will provide greater results and make your search more thorough. 

You can also visit us at the Turner Center. We utilize specialized proprietary software that can identify potentially similar inventions, reveal the top inventing companies in your market place, the top companies acquiring patents in your market place, and the quantity of related patent filings over the past several years. This software tool has helped many of our clients focus their efforts on the right features and the right markets, and has saved them significant time and money prior to hiring a professional patent attorney. To learn more, please contact Chad Stamper at (309) 677-4432 or email.