What is it?
A patent search is a prudent and cost effective place to start by uncovering any issued patents or published patent applications related to your invention. Based on the patent search results, you can determine whether your invention is patentable and to what degree it is patentable.
Why perform one?
Once you begin your patent search, the first thing a Patent Office Examiner does when he/she receives your patent application is to perform a search of prior patents and patent applications related to your invention to determine if your invention is indeed new. Therefore, you are advised (not mandatory) to conduct a search of issued patents, published patent applications and other published or public information ("prior art") to evaluate whether any part of your invention or idea has been patented, published or disclosed previously.
• You can avoid the needless expense of lost time and money to prepare and file a patent application. If a patent search would have turned up prior art that might preclude your invention from being issued as a patent.
• Knowing the prior art related to your invention guides the patent applicant in drafting the patent application (background, figures, and description) necessary to properly disclose applicant's novel invention.
FACT: Currently, there are 7 million issued patents issued by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), which means that there are more patents in existence than actual products commercially available. If you do not see your invention for sale in a store, on the Internet, or in the public domain (public disclosure), that does not mean that someone has not pursued protection for the same or similar invention under a patent or disclosed the same invention in a published article. Your goal is to have a full understanding of the patents and patent applications filed prior to your invention, which may have a bearing on the scope of patent protection available for your invention.
Mat Grell, U.S. Patent Attorney - Founder of The Inventor Start Kit, a simple step-by-step process that helps inventors protect their ideas and get them to the marketplace... to hopefully make millions! Visit Mat's site: http://www.inventorstartkitblog.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mat_Grell