RESEARCH YOUR IDEA
Congratulations! You have already proven that you can be smart about developing your idea because you have decided to do research first! The very first thing you need to do, is try and find it someplace else. You may be amazed to find that other people have already created and even patented “your” idea. Patents are first come, first served, and there are a lot of great inventors out there!
Literally start by conducting online searches for things that describe your invention. I have saved people thousands of dollars simply by googling a brief description of their item. For the most thorough search it is always best to hire a recommended professional, but you can conduct a search yourself for free. This can be a complicated and tedious process, but it will allow you to gain valuable technical insight into your own invention that can be used to refine your idea, and possibly locate companies that may be interested in licensing your product.
There are several ways to search for patents:
Online databases: The USPTO has made online searching of its databases available to the public at no charge at http://www.uspto.gov. A few other free online search systems are CASSIS (a CD-ROM based search engine), the Delphion Research Intellectual Property Network (formerly the IBM
patent site), and the Source Translation and Optimization (STO) Internet Patent Search System.
Your local patent depository library:
http://www.uspto.gov/go/ptdl/index.html, describes the US Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program, as well as gives the names and locations of patent depository libraries, state by state. Note: not every patent depository library has a complete record of USPTO information.
A reputable patent attorney or professional: Patent attorneys and agents who meet specific legal, technical and ethical qualifications are registered by the USPTO. Be aware, though, that the USPTO has no control over patent practitioners or organizations, and reputable search firms use the same advertising techniques as unscrupulous ones. That’s why it’s advisable to check the reputation of any invention promotion firm.