1. Simple Patent Search
Get an early idea of whether an invention is new. Google Patents, https://www.google.com/?tbm=pts, is a patent search tool that simple and requires no special knowledge of boolean search techniques. Inventors and business owners should find it easy to conduct a simple and quick patent search in a manner patterned after the typical google internet search.
2. Avoid Patent Scams
Avoid falling for a scam. Many inventors have ended up in very regrettable situations including loosing patent rights by dealing with invention promotion firms. While it is unfair to condemn an entire industry, a savvy consumer should be on high alert. The best place to find companies that have given other people problems is the Patent Office inventor complaints page.
3. Trademark Searching at the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Trademarks serve as an indicator of the source of goods and services. A simple search of the USPTO trademark database can form the starting point for understanding whether a mark is available.
4. Educational Patent Literature
Seeking patent protection is a complicated process. Without endorsing the underlying premise of his book, David Pressman does a good job of explaining many of the complexities of the patenting process in Patent it Yourself. As of this writing, I cannot vouch for whether the latest version of the book is updated for the America Invents Act or more recent interpretations of that act. My previous blog post discusses the value of and some issues with that book.
5. What is “New” in the Eyes of the Patent Office?
Finally, it is important to understand what the Patent Office regards as “new.” While having an invention that is "new" in the eyes of the Patent Office is insufficient by itself to grant a patent, a person who understands that concept is well-equipped to understand similar concepts such as obviousness and can reasonably appreciate the significance of the prior art impacting a patent application. My blog at BatonRougePatentAttorney.com has a post describing what the Patent Office Considers "new."