How to find out if someone has already patented your idea?
As they say, “Great minds think alike!” But you’re an entrepreneur. You thrive on having original ideas that no one else has ever dreamed of. And you want to file a patent, which means you need to be the first one to think of your idea.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: GOTTA DO A PATENT SEARCH
A patent search is the best way to find out if you’re first with your idea- or if someone else has beaten you to get a patent.
Doing a patent search doesn’t have to be difficult (although some patent lawyers will charge you like it is). We outline some of the simple ways that you can start to search for patents and other publications, called ‘prior art’- for example, by using the simple Google Patents search engine. Publication of an idea identical to yours in any of these sources can count against you for getting a patent. Why? Because one of the requirements is that you must fulfill in the patent process is to have an original idea- one that hasn’t been published before.
Let’s start with a patent-pending search. In this search, we’ll look for patents and pending patent applications, which are applications that been published but haven’t yet become patents.
We recommend starting with Google Patents, which offers a really simple patent search interface. Just enter a few keywords and then go!
But if you want to be really clever, just check the box marked “include non-patent literature” (illustrated below) and you’ll simultaneously search patents and other types of publications, like scientific articles.
If you have the name of a competitor, you can use the Advanced Google Patent Search. Enter the name of your competitor in the box marked “Original Assignee”. I put in the name “Apple” in the box circled below as an example.
Want more great search tips? Get our search e-book, “Find Out If You Are First With Your Idea“.
Wondering if your idea is patentable? Have a question about this article? We can answer all of your questions — just hit "contact us" down below!