Patents have long served as the medium through which creative people protect their big ideas – and the potential profits that they promise – from those who would claim them as their own, and most of the governments of the world have taken up the practice of validating and issuing them under law. Besides protecting inventors in court should someone ever try to cash in on their genius, this also provides us with a way of testing the waters when it comes to our own flashes of brilliance.

Coming up with what seems to be an entirely unique idea is tough in a world filled to the brim with more than seven billion creative thinkers! Test your ideas out by taking the time to search for their pre-existence with these five patent search tools:

1. United States Patent and Trademark Office

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Whether an idea is launched on American soil or not, it will often find itself patented in that country, and that makes the United States Patent and Trademark Office website a smart first destination when looking for patented ideas.

Entirely searchable by a number of criteria, including keywords, dates, and patent numbers, this online system will make it relatively easy to track down patents for any purpose, whether you’re looking for a specific entry, or just wanting to find similar products and ideas within your niche.

2. Patent Lookup

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I love the home page where you can quickly see “New” and “Trending” patents. Advanced search is another interesting feature!

3. World Intellectual Property Organization

World Intellectual Property Organization

A subsidiary of the United Nations itself, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) works to bring together patent information from member nations around the globe, all made entirely searchable – and entirely free – for the general public.

Similar to the previous service, this one allows you to search based on useful criteria, helping you to come up with pertinent results quickly and easily. Besides offering up information on its own, each search result will also guide you to the appropriate country’s online patent entry, if available, giving you access to multiple sources of information with only a few clicks.

4. GetThePatent.com

GetThePatent.com

If detailed information provided in an official format is what you’re after, then GetThePatent.com is an excellent place to try your hand. Featuring full patent documents for millions of international patents, updated daily, this service gives you access to most any information that you could ever need, all obtained via a simple search.

Unfortunately, unlike the previous entries on our list, GetThePatent.com will require a monthly subscription fee, so it will prove most useful to those who need to acquire patent information on a regular basis. On the other hand, even if you’re only looking for a single patent, but need it in printable format for an official purpose, a one-time monthly fee may be well worth it!

5. MicroPatent.com

MicroPatent.com

Promising that it houses the world’s largest repository of patent information, MicroPatent.com is a unique patent search tool in that it aims to be a service focused on legal research, and this has lead to a clean, easy-to-use design and functionality that many similar websites and services leave to be desired. Their sleek look aside, MicroPatent.com also delivers some of the most comprehensive intellectual property search results that you could hope for, making it easy to track the progress of ideas and products from their inception to their demise.

To make this service even more valuable, a live help option is also offered, giving you access to a consultant who will help you to quickly and easily track down the information that you need – for a price, of course.

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