Search Patents and Trademarks
Searching to see if someone else has a patent already on your idea!
Ask any inventor, patents are tricky processes. A lot of work goes into getting a patent, and chances are these days someone is going to claim at least part of your idea was their idea well beforehand. It's part of doing business.
Smart business people will do the research to know what they are up against in terms of prior patents having been issued in their space. Lucky inventors won't find anything in their general concept area. Kudos to you if you've really invented something new!
You can search all existing patents using the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT). We provide a simple search box below to get you started. Enter a few keywords about your idea in the boxs below, and we'll help you search.
Searching for a possible brand name to see if anyone has it
Have a great idea for a product? It might be cool, but it's far less cool if someone else is already using it. Luckily, it's very easy to find this out by logging into the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System. We make this really easy for you – just enter your idea for a term below, and we'll check to see if it's being used by anyone else.
TIP: It's ok if someone else is using your proposed name as long as it's not in the same topical area. For instance, you might want to call your product the "Mighty Mike" – a neat name for a new microphone. If someone else has a product called the "Mighty Mike" and it's a tractor, you're probably OK – no one will confuse the two. So don't fret right away if someone else has the same name – see how it is used.
NOTE: The official United States Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System does not allow us to send them your search string, you have to do this manually at: http://tess2.uspto.gov/ The above form uses a similar non-official search using a private patent database, and will give you a good rough idea of your trademark's availability. Once you decide on a mark using that system, double check with the official U.S. TESS system at the URL above. The CIC does not endorse any third party non-official sites, and the above URLs are provided for your guidance only.
Searching for a domain name to see if anyone has it
OK, so you might have a great brand name, but what about an Internet web address? If you have "Mighty Mike", what about www.mightymike.com, is it available? Let's check with Yahoo! Domains Search and see.
NOTE: While the most common ending for a web address is .com, there are many others available too, including .net, .info, .us, and so on.
TIP: It's really hard to find open/available domain names these days – so you might need to add some words to it like:
or something like that. Don't get discouraged if a lot of your ideas are taken – real marketers deal with these problems every day. In fact, it's quite common that to launch a product, you need to BUY the web address from someone else that is already using it.
Getting your OWN patent!
Patenting an invention takes time - a few years is typical - and money. Plus, having a patent doesn't mean that your invention will bring you riches, since the granting of a patent is not based on the whether an invention will be successful in the market. If a student wishes to provide a level of protection, one can apply for a provisional patent. Refer to the US Patent Office for more detail
ONE YEAR RULE: Generally speaking, an inventor has ONE YEAR within which they may apply for a patent, otherwise the invention may go into Public Domain use, where anyone can use the idea. The one year clock starts timing when the invention is first disclosed, used or displayed publicly or published in a publicly available document such as a newspaper, television, or magazine. For students, this time clock may start when you have your local invention competition. The one year time clock may also start to click when an inventor sells the invention or offers to sell the invention to another party.
If you feel your invention is very patentable, or valuable, consult an attorney for advice, and certainly visit the www.uspto.gov website, and look at options to file what is known as a Provisional Patent . This is one of the least expensive routes to protection.
Information about Inventing
Begin your journey to get a patent, by visiting the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Website. Note, there are fees payable to the US Government for this application, and fees vary by patent application type. Pricing is noted in the Fee Schedule for various patents application types. As a small business, a small entity, or non-profit, you may be entitled to a 50% discount off the normal fees. Additional discounts may be available by filing your provisional patent electronically.
For more information, check out this link:
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Kids Pages
Key Patent, Trademark, Domain Search Links
Patents Issued to CIC Kids
These kids turned their CIC inventions into real patents!