Recently I’ve found websites and blog posts promoting your ability to conduct your own patent search. Unless your invention is extremely straightforward, I would not recommend doing that.
The U.S. Patent Office was created in 1802. As such, issued patents were organized by categories or classes and subclasses. As innovation has evolved, the categories of classes and subclasses has evolved and changed considerably. Unless you are extremely familiar with the patent records organization, you are better off spending your money on a professional searcher who will find all of the relevant categorical nooks and crannies. Often times a material, process or structure in your invention may have applicability in areas you have not considered. These need to be identified and pursued in order to obtain a full and thorough search.
Patentability must be based on a complete search to have value. If not, you are spending good money after bad by investing in the preparation and filing of a patent application based on incomplete patent search results. You are better off knowing that your invention is unpatentable than spending money on the preparation and filing of a meaningless application. In addition, your application, and particularly your claims, can be tailored to that patentable space defined not only by your invention but by the relevant prior art found in a good search.
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