|Conducting a Patent Search at a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL)|
|The 7-Step Strategy for Conducting a Patent Search|
Begin with this alphabetical subject index to the Manual of Classification. Look for common terms describing the invention and its function, effect, end-product, structure, and use. Note class and subclass numbers.
Locate class and subclass numbers in the Manual. Note where the terms fall within the US Patent Classification System. Scan the entire class schedule, paying attention to the dot indent. Revise search strategy as needed.
Read the definitions to establish the scope of class(es) and subclass(es) relevant to the search. The definitions include important search notes and suggestions for further searching.
Check if you are on the right path; retrieve and browse through titles of patents and published applications in the given class and subclass. Or redirect the search: retrieve lists of patents and published applications containing applicable keywords; note their class and subclass numbers and go back to Step 2. Remember that Patents BIB includes bibliographic information for patents from 1969 to present and published patent applications from 2001 to the present. WEST includes the full-text of patents from 1971 to the present. USPTO databases on the Web include the full-text of patents from 1976 and images (searchable only by class or number) from 1790 to the current week, plus published applications from 2001 to present.
Once you have identified the relevant classes and subclasses, obtain a list of all patent numbers granted from 1790 to the present and all published applications from 2001 to the present for every class and subclass to be searched.
Go to the Gazette and look for exemplary claim(s) and a representative drawing for all patents on the list(s) to eliminate patents unrelated to the invention. For published applications, view the complete document on-line.
Search the complete text and drawing(s) of closely related patents to determine how different they are from the invention. (Years of coverage vary with format).