The Patent Search
It is important before filing your patent application to know if anything like it has been patented before. A patent search is a search of all the patented items in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office archives.
Many inventors have looked for their invention on store shelves, specialty stores, and industry publications. However, not finding your invention on the market does not mean that it has not already been patented. There are many pre-existing patents for products that, for one reason or another, have not made it to the market. It is often helpful to have a search conducted to see if the inventions described in existing patents are similar to yours.
A professional patent search is often advisable before proceeding with the patenting of your invention. Costs for having a patent search depend upon a number of factors but typically are under $1,500 for most mechanical inventions. Patent search costs for inventions relating to biotechnology, electrical systems, chemical formulas, software or business methods are generally higher.
A patent search may reveal prior inventions that are close to yours. If there are still differences that you feel are significant, an experienced Registered Patent Attorney can help determine whether differences are significant enough to permit a patent to issue on your invention in light of existing patents.