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You have an idea for an invention, or have gone so far as to create a prototype. Before marketing your invention, you will need to determine if your invention has already been patented. Start by conducting a thorough patent search.
A patent is a right of ownership granted to a person by the government to exclude others from making or selling the claimed invention for a period of twenty years.
There are three main types of patents:
See general information concerning patents (including how to file an application).
You may need to search a number of different patent sites, so it is useful to keep a log of all your search activity.
To begin your search:
See also: 7-step U.S. patent search strategy (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office).