Patenting an invention is one of the most important steps if you want to save your innovative concept from the infringers, product poachers and unscrupulous group of people that is; patent trolls.

A patent helps save your invention and keep it protected for a certain period of time.

There are two possible ways to have your invention patented. For example, you can get it done either by hiring a professional patent attorney or by submitting your provisional patent application on your own.

So, what you need to do?

However, before you go ahead, doing a preliminary patent search to ascertain the novelty, uniqueness and non-obviousness of your invention idea is one of the most important phases to take into consideration.

Through this article, you will learn about certain specific but most important guidelines that you must mind while doing patent search online.

Specific yet important guidelines

1. The USPTO and IBM contain free online databases that you can use to perform your patent search.

2. It is better to use phrases or keywords that will best describe your invention using common terms, such as its function, effect, end-product, structure, and use.

3. The results enlist patents, as per your keywords. Here you can get the title of the invention and its single-paragraph description.

4. If you don’t know when you came up with this invention, or if it got patented before 1971, you have no chance to conduct a complete search online.

5. In such case, you need to visit one of the national Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs). Reference librarians may do it for you by helping through the U.S. patent search.

6. US Patent Classification (paper, CD-ROM) starts with this alphabetical subject index to the Manual of Classification. Search for your keywords. Don’t forget noting down class and subclass numbers.

7. Search for those numbers in the Manual of Classification. Start writing from where the terms come under the US Patent Classification System. Scan the complete class schedule; take note of the dot indent. Review search strategy as necessary.

8. Classification Definitions (microfiche, CD-ROM, USPTO web) – Read the definitions to establish the scope of class(es) and subclass(es) relevant to the search. The definitions include key search suggestions and notes for extra search.

9. Patents BIB (CD-ROM, WEST, USPTO web) –Check if you are going it; search for Patents BIB (1969 – ) or WEST (1971- ) or USPTO web (1976 – ) for a specific class/subclass; retrieve results and observe titles.

10. Patents CLASS (CD-ROM or WEST) – Once related class(es)/subclass(es) are recognized, get the listing of all patent numbers (1790-present) provided for every class and subclass to be searched for.

11. Official Gazette – Patent Section (microform or paper), go to the Gazette, look for archetypal claim(s) and an illustrative drawing for all patents on the list(s) to take away patents that are irrelevant to the invention.

12. Complete Patent Document (microfilm, paper, CD-ROM, WEST, or USPTO web; years of coverage vary), Search for the complete drawing(s) or text of closely connected patents to determine their variance with the invention.

13. Keep your searches and match them to the professional search.

14. Professional search results may either contain a formal written opinion, or just be copies of the prior art in the search.

15. That is why; it is better if you ask about the way of conducting searches, and what databases are to be used.

15. If you prioritize quality, hire the services of a professional patent attorney or a patent agent or an independent research company.