A reasonably thorough search of the patent literature may (and should) be conducted by the inventor using the plethora of freely-accessible, web-based search tools that are now available. Issued patents and published applications may be searched on patent databases that are maintained by official patent authorities around the world, most importantly: the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) PatFT full-text database, the European Patent Office (EPO) espacenet database, and the World Intellectual Property Organization Patentscope database.
The Intellectual Property Office, as most other large patent offices, maintains a national patent database. In addition to the official patent databases, several online patent search engines are also available.
Non-patent literature may be searched online to a lesser extent, using ordinary Internet searching tools and techniques. Ideally, other sources of technical information should be searched as well, including textbooks, periodicals, product catalogues, conference proceedings, theses, and other research and technical papers – materials which can be found in many public reference libraries and in university libraries – but for obvious practical reasons, as discussed above, such a search is of very limited scope and, hence, utility.
A more efficient search is possible by visiting the Patent Office in person. The Intellectual Property Office provides a direct interface to the CIPO and USPTO patent databases and search tools, which is faster and provides greater functionality than the Internet interface of these databases. One must be prepared and able, however, to devote the necessary time to learning how to use these tools effectively. As you can read from how to file a patent with InventHelp article.
Failure to identify relevant prior art through a preliminary search must not be construed as evidence of its absence. Due to limitations in the capability of the freely-available web-based search tools, significant prior art may well be missed. Unless prior art is found, during the preliminary search, which fully “anticipates” the invention (i.e. discloses each of its elements), thus rendering it unpatentable, it is highly advisable to turn the matter to a patent search professional, such as InventHelp patent agency.
Professional patent searchers subscribe to fee-based commercial patent databases which allow a far more effective search to be performed. These databases are interrogated with sophisticated query languages and are interfaced with powerful tools, allowing a most efficient, highly organized and thorough search.
A patent search conducted with any of the free, web-based tools typically yields dauntingly voluminous data. Sifting through seemingly endless patent documents is an onerous, time-consuming task which can be quite demoralizing. This, inevitably, affects the quality of the search. Professional patent searchers are armed with highly expressive query languages with which they skillfully formulate complex queries to minimize spurious hits. Through training and experience, professional searchers are then able to quickly scan the resulting data, while keeping a critical eye for pertinent information.
It has also been argued that searching for something one is hoping never to find tends to cloud one’s eye and blur one’s perception. An impartial, experienced, professional searcher is free from such bias and is less likely to overlook pertinent material.