The most crucial step that a prospective inventor can take is finding out whether or not an idea that they have come up with already has an existing patent. A patent enables a person to claim sole copyright of their invention, and it makes it impossible for anyone else to claim that they invented the same item. A patent is invaluable because it also ensures that no one aside from the original inventor can make money on the item in question without the approval of the inventor. An inventor could stand to lose or gain millions of dollars on an invention based on whether or not he or she has a patent for it.
It is of utmost importance to find out if an item or idea has already been patented before dedicating time and money toward creating it. Inventors today are encouraged to research the web to find existing patents before utilizing any time for business ideas. There are tales of inventors who invested their life savings and years of time into an idea that was already making money for someone else. There is no reason in this modern age that a situation like that should happen to any new inventor!
An online search for existing patents is carried out by looking for keywords that pertain to the idea in need of a patent. Specifications can be added to figure out whether or not the exact idea has already been patented. If not, further searches should be made to find out whether or not very similar ideas have already been patented; if so, thought must be given to whether or not the idea is different enough from those with existing patents to help improve people’s lives and thus be in high demand. Online patent searches are also helpful because they give inventors a chance to see similar inventions, which might give ideas for refining an invention, changing it just enough that it will improve the idea while not infringing on an existing patent; however, if the items are so similar that it will be hard to make money off of the idea, it might be smart to move on and think of a new product.
There are other ways to find existing patents without using the Internet. These will take more time and effort to utilize, but they are just as accurate. In large cities around the country, there are libraries that exist simply for people to research existing patents. These are called United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sites and there are over 80 of them, almost all of them located in major American cities.