Patent Search

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 29, 2008
Updated • Sep 24, 2017

Before you start inventing, creating, investing and publishing you should do a patent search to see if anyone else came up with the same idea and has patented it already.

While it is usually a good idea to let a patent attorney handle the research, anyone can get a quick overview individually and completely without additional costs.

One website that supports patent searches is, a simple free website that lets you search US Patents, US Design Patents, US Patent Applications and European Patents. The search supports the basic Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT.

Instead of entering text you can also enter an application, publication or patent number right away and search for inventors, attorneys, agents, assignees and owners.

Three additional search forms are available.

The advanced search accepts a data range and additional variables like the assistant and primary examiner or foreign references.

Expert Search combines abbreviations with wildcards and special searches allowing advanced and complex queries. Bulk Search finally allows to search for multiple patents at once by using a comma delimited list of patent numbers.

Alternatives would be to search the US Patent Office database directly which uses an awful interface from the 90s, or the patent search options provided by Google or the European patent office.

One area where fails is information that reveals the source or sources the company uses to fill the database. Are they as reliable as the official sources? How often are their patents updated, do they always publish the latest right away? Questions that only a patent attorney could answer.

The patent search engines enable you to research a topic of interest, either because you want to initially check if your idea has not been patented before, or if you are interested into a topic and want to learn more about it.

Update: The website changed in recent time. While you can still run a search for patents using it, it limits access to a basic search option and has removed advanced and expert search options from the site.

Patent Search
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Patent Search
Find out how to search for US and European patents using free patent search engines such as on the Internet.
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