In this article, we will discuss the process of checking whether a product is patented. It’s essential to complete all the steps outlined below, even if you come across a patent, as the product’s owner may possess multiple patents that cover it.
Step 1: Conduct an Internet Search
The first step is to perform a simple Google search. The product’s owner may have advertised or shared the patent number on their website, so you can find the relevant information by searching on Google.
To conduct the search, go to www.google.com and enter the product name along with the term “patent.” For example, to find the patent number for the ShedRain umbrella shown in the photo below, enter “SHEDRAIN UMBRELLA PATENT.”
Look through the search results to see if the product has been patented. In the case of the ShedRain umbrella, we discovered that it has a patent number: US Pat. No. 11224269.
Step 2: Perform an Assignee Search
The next step is to conduct an assignee search, which involves finding all patents owned by the product’s owner. To do this, you’ll need to find the name of the owner.
One way to find the owner’s name is by examining the search results. For instance, in the previous search, we found that the owner of the ShedRain umbrella patent is ShedRain Corporation.
Additionally, you can search for the owner of the trademark associated with the product. Visit the Trademark Electronic Search System and enter the name of the trademark. Look up the owner of the trademark in the USPTO database.
Once you have the owner’s name, go to www.freepatentsonline.com and conduct an assignee search using the following query: “AN/[insert legal name of owner].” This search will provide you with numerous patents and pre-grant publications associated with the owner.
Step 3: Check for Patent Markings
The third step involves purchasing the product and checking for any patent markings. Many patent owners mark their products with the patent number to provide notice to the public about the existence of a patent covering the product. This marking ensures that the patent owner can receive the maximum damage award in case of patent infringement.
In some cases, the patent number may be indicated on the product’s packaging. However, in our example, we couldn’t find any patent number on the packaging of the product we examined.
Step 4: Explore Related Patents
After uncovering a patent related to the product, you need to determine if there are any other patents that cover it. The patent owner may have filed continuation patent applications to build a patent portfolio around the product.
To begin this process, go to the Patent Center and enter the patent number of the uncovered patent.
The patent office’s website will display the bibliographic data of the patent. On the left side, click on “continuity” to find any other patent applications or patents related to the uncovered patent.
Once you have all the relevant patents, read through their claims to determine if your product infringes on any independent claims. If it does, you will need to design your product in a way that avoids infringing on those patent(s).
Remember, following these steps will help you ascertain if a product is patented. To learn more about patents and intellectual property, visit the Garrity Traina website by clicking here.