Seven Steps of a US Patent Search

By following these seven steps, you can conduct an initial search of US patents and prior applications with free online resources.

  1. Analyze and associate to come up with any words, phrases that can describe your invention.
  2. Use these words and phrases to initially determine which class/subclass of the U.S. Patent Classification your invention falls into. The following link is an index to the US Patent Classification:
  3. Use the following link to confirm the relevance of the USPC Class/Subclass you find:
  4. Use the link in Step 3 to find the US Patent Classification definition to further confirm the scope of the subclass you have found.
  5. Through the patent and application database, using the US Patent Classification codes in steps 3 and 4, it is possible to retrieve and read the entire filing of patents and prior applications. The link to the patent and application database is as follows:
  6. Using the US Patent Classification codes in steps 3 and 4, you can find the corresponding Cooperative Patent Classification codes (CPCs) at the following link: With the found Cooperative Patent Classification code, you can retrieve and read all documents of patents and prior applications in the database of patents and prior applications.
  7. On the website of the European Patent Office you can find more relevant Cooperative Patent Classification codes. The relevant link is as follows: You can use these additional Cooperative Patent Classification codes to retrieve and read more related patents and published application documents in the patent and prior application database.
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