Patent Knowledge Base
Inventors often research the prior art in their field before filing a patent application, in order to avoid wasting time and money on an invention that has already been disclosed to the patent office.
Inventors can search for patents for free on-line, search on for-profit patent websites, or high a professional patent searcher to perform a patent search for them.
There are several free patent search sites, such as the USPTO patent search site.
US patents are grouped by the USPTO classification system The main classification categories are:
Group I. Chemical And Related Arts Group II. Communications, Radiant Energy, Weapons, Electrical, And Computer Arts Group III. Body Treatment And Care, Heating And Cooling, Material Handling And Treatment, Mechanical Manufacturing, Mechanical Power, Static, And Related Arts Group IV. Industrial Designs
For example, Apple's contested patent US7479949 covering 'a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command...' is classified under Class 345, Computer Graphics Processing And Selective Visual Display Systems and under Class 715, Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing.
Patents can also be searched by parameters such as keyword, publication date, inventor name, or assignee name (usually the company employing the inventor).
There are also paid patent search web sites that offer additional features, and professional patent searchers that will search for patent prior art.
DISCLAIMER: Please consult a patent attorney for advice on specific patent strategy
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