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UMass Amherst Libraries

Patents and Trademarks

Patent Searching - things to consider BEFORE you start

Much of patent searching depends on a number of factors to consider:

- how authoritative do you want the search to be
- how up to date do your want the information to be
- how much time do you have to spend on this search
- your comfort level with using a computer and search systems
- the invention – is it innovative technology or does it require searching patents prior to 1975
- your knowledge of U.S. patent classification and the recent change from USPC to CPC (you will need to search both systems)
- do you need to search just patents or also patent applications

Overall, patent searching can be rather complex and therefore I recommend keeping a simple log of your process and progress.

A simple log may track:

Date of search - Search Database - Search terms used - Number of results - Patents of interest - Patent Class/Subclass - Notes

Has this been patented? - How to get started

To determine if an invention has been patented a thorough patent search should be conducted.  This will entail searching a number of different patent websites, so it is wise to keep a journal of your work as to not duplicate efforts.

In general:

1.  Brainstorm Keywords to describe your invention - think of synonyms.

2.  Use Keywords to search for a similar match of your invention in Google Patents.

3.  Note the class and subclass of the similar invention - either in USPC or CPC, or both.

4.  Use the class and subclass to search patents and patent applications at the USPTO website classification or the Espacenet databases.

5.  Trace related patents through references.

Detailed Seven Step Search Strategy from the USPTO (pdf, 2015)

Although Google Patents is easy to use it is not as up to date as the USPTO website.