How to Find Out If Someone Has Already Patented Your Idea

By Anna Assad

Checking to see if your idea has already been invented before applying for a patent saves you time and money. A patent gives you exclusive rights to the product or idea you invented and a way to fight intellectual property theft. The United States Patent and Trademark Office checks your idea against existing patients and pending applications during the application process. Your patent will be rejected if it's too similar to an existing patent, costing you the application fee. While you might find ideas that are similar to yours, you can still patent your idea as long as you show on the application how your take on the patent object is new. You can search for existing patents using various methods, including the USPTO's online database or in person at a field office.

Step 1

Go to the official website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Use the "Full-Text and Image Database" search to check existing patent applications and images. Both full applications and images are available for patents filed after 1975. You can also search imaged copies of applications filed between 1790 and 1975. Search existing patents using words that appear in or describe your idea. Check all results against your idea.

Step 2

Locate the Patent and Trademark Depository Library nearest you. The staff can help you with researching patents and questions about similarities between your idea and an existing patent. Use the library search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's official website to find a library in your state.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now

Step 3

Contact the USPTO's Public Search Facility in Virginia at 571-272-3275 for information about visiting in person. You can visit the facility to access various patent search databases, including some patents outside of the United States, and the staff provides research help and a free system training class. Confirm the facility's operating hours and ask the representative any other questions you have about visiting or attending training.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now
How Do I Patent My Idea?

References

Resources

Related articles

How Do I Know If I'm Violating a Trademark?

A trademark identifies and distinguishes the origin of a product or service in the marketplace. It uses either a word, phrase, design or any combination of these. It helps people to differentiate between products and services. Businesses have exclusive rights to use their marks in commerce, so long as they do not violate another party's mark.

How Much Does a Patent Search Cost?

An invention may be patentable if it is novel and non-obvious. The words “novel” and “ non-obvious” are legal terms that broadly mean unique. Smart inventors conduct prior art searches, sometimes called patent searches, to determine whether their invention is novel and non-obvious. Taking the time to perform this important step prevents the inventor from wasting money by trying to patent something that already exists. Moreover, familiarity with the prior art helps the inventor differentiate the invention from those that are very similar.

How to See if Your Logo Has Been Trademarked

Trademarks are words, names, symbols, or devices used to identify or distinguish the goods or services of one party from those of others. A logo is a symbol you can trademark. Choosing a logo for your business can help you establish your brand and make it memorable to customers. Before you use a logo, it is important to make sure that its use does not infringe upon another party's trademark.

Start here. LegalZoom. Legal help is here. LLCs. Corporations. Patents. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Find a Patent Number

Patents are given to creators of original inventions. They are awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The ...

How to Sell an Idea Without a Patent

A patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides legal protection to inventors. Once an idea or ...

Checklist for Getting a Patent

Coming up with a brilliant invention can be exciting. Among the most important steps you'll want to take right away is ...

How to Use TESS for Trademark

A trademark is a unique symbol, phrase or word used to distinguish one brand of goods or services from another. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED