How To Conduct A (Free) Patent Search

D'vorah Graeser

Innovators, bootstrappers, and solopreneurs looking to cut costs often want to do their own patent search, and that’s completely understandable! 

But, you need to be careful. 

It’s quite common for inventors to conduct a patent search or a patent-pending search and find nothing, even when there is, in fact, prior art that could and would be found by a professional searcher. 

Needless to say, there are a few tools out there that can help you search, so you can familiarize yourself with existing patents and obtain important information about what makes your invention unique. 

Here are some strategies and a few free tools to help you out.

Google Patent Search

Google also offers Google Patent Search, which is just like your regular, everyday Google search, but with patents. 

A great thing about Google Patent Search is that it’s lightning-fast and you can experiment with tons of different keywords to see which results are more relevant. 

Google Patent Search

The reason I don’t suggest only searching on Google is that it has some serious limitations — the number of fields that can be searched is very limited and there are some serious holes in the database. 

I’ve personally searched for patents that I know exist and can’t always find them and I’ve heard of similar experiences with other patent attorneys and agents. 

There’s also an Advanced Google Patent Search to look for patents filed by specific companies, inventors, and dates.

iSearch.ai

iSearch.ai is a fantastic new patent search tool, developed by us (thank you very much), that uses AI to search for existing patents based on the description of your idea. Instantly! 

iSearch.ai Patent Search

Searching by keywords or ambiguous categories only creates more confusion and bigger holes. 

Our AI’s unprecedented approach using the description of your idea will help you search for relevant patents and published applications, give you a uniqueness score to calculate how new and inventive your idea is, uncover competitors, and find potential overlaps for you to look out for!

Better yet, iSearch allows you to conduct a Google Patent Search within the tool itself, as well as a “Look-alike” search where you can smoke out companies and competitors that have similar patents and published applications.

Finally, you’ll be able to download a report with all the information you discovered. 

It’s the best tool to consider whether your idea earns the effort you’re putting into it, and if not, how to replace it with an idea that is.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

The USPTO website is a great starting point — it has granted millions of patents and its tools allow you to search through records back to 1790. I suggest reviewing patents like your invention and always broadening your search in case you’re looking in the wrong place. 

USPTO Patent Search

The downside of searching the USPTO website by yourself is that it is quite technical, slow, and you can easily overlook important prior art if you don’t know where to look. 

It can quickly become overwhelming if you’re not a patent agent or a patent lawyer. 

Espacenet Patent Searching

Specifically for Europeans or anyone interested in obtaining a patent in Europe, Espacenet is offered by the European Patent Office and is similar to Google — plug in your keywords and search away.

Espacenet Patent Search

Again, similar to Google, there is an advanced version to break down your search even further. You can search by a specific company, inventor name, patent number, and lots more. 

What’s the best option for you?

As all of these tools are free, using them can quickly become overwhelming and frustrating. Your best choice is to use the one that will bring you the biggest benefit.

All of these tools, except for iSearch.ai, do keyword searches.

This is a problem.

Keywords can be included in a patent but this patent might not be relevant to your idea. For example, you can search for AI + medical device and get tons of results. Some of these results might be similar to your idea, others might mention these keywords just as a reference to something else.

How do you know which patents are relevant to your idea without having to read hundreds of them?

Another problem most tools have is that it’s very difficult to make sense of the results you get. Yes, if you search for a blockchain patent, it will give you thousands of results but which ones are relevant? How can you check all the information to know you’re not missing something? And, most importantly, how can this information prove how unique your idea is?

From the tools I shared with you, only one of them can help you conduct a free patent search and solve these two problems.

This tool is iSearch.ai.

iSearch.ai is a better tool because it makes a semantic search. You simply describe your idea as you would describe it to a friend. The AI will give you results that are relevant to your idea, not just keywords.

On the other hand, iSearch.ai will help you make sense of the information you get by scoring your idea. After conducting a patent search, you’ll get a uniqueness and overlap score. 

These are truly unique features only iSearch.ai has!

Now it’s up to you

As markets get more competitive, winning by traditional rules gets more and more difficult.

Conducting an efficient and competent patent search is a crucial step in the innovation process, it can help you turn your idea into a reality! 

Remember to also keep in mind if having information about your competitors and possible overlaps is valuable to you. I, personally, think it gives you the upper hand!

I like to say building the extraordinary takes guts. 

Why not start now?

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