Markets, Patents and Alliances is happy to provide you with information on our Patent Search Services. We can also guide you on how to do searching yourself. See the tutorial below on the USPTO patent search page.

Comprehensive Patent Search

You have a great idea, but you want to make sure it hasn’t been already done before. That’s very smart. We research US and international databases to see if there is anything out there that even looks like what you’ve come up with.

Is Your Idea Patentable?

A thorough search is a very effective way to discover what is patentable in your new idea. By comparing the details of what you’ve done with what’s been done before, we can help identify the truly creative parts of your invention. These creative parts can be the foundation of a strong patent.  

Our clients are extremely pleased with the thoroughness of our work and they trust our opinions. Here's what one of them has to say about the quality of our searches.

“Mark is practical, pragmatic and creative when it comes to evaluating new ideas for patentability. There is a lot of art and science to patents. Mark comes at it from all sides.” 

—Bob Oros, President
Business Development Resources Inc.

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(or send us a note using the contact form at right

If we don’t find anything, then great! Perhaps it’s time to get a patent.

If Your Invention Already Exists

If we do find something that is similar but not exact, that can be great too. We will carefully compare your idea to what’s been done already to identify the critical improvements you’ve made. These critical improvements can become the basis of very strong patents. We also search international databases, such PatentScope®, maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO.)

Our turnaround is about two weeks and our prices are competitive. If you need it faster, we can get it faster. If you have a limited budget, we can work within that budget.

Free 15-minute Consultation

If you have an idea and you want it checked against the USPTO and international patent databases, give us a call at 203.975.7678. We offer a free 15-minute consultation to help you determine the best way to proceed. We look forward to doing business with you.

Mark Nowotarski

Mark Nowotarski

Patent Agent

USPTO Reg. No. 47,828

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How to Conduct a USPTO Patent Search

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers an on-line, up-to-date repository of all US patents issued since 1976 and all patent applications published since 2001. These repositories are located at and, respectively.

The first repository contains information on patents that have issued. The second contains information on patent applications that have been published, but may or may not have issued yet. If you are looking for inventions in a fast moving field, like iphone apps, you’ll want to use the patent application page. It has more recent developments.

How to Construct a USPTO Search Query

You perform a USPTO patent search by constructing a string that consists of “field codes” and “keywords”. The basic string is:


While you don’t need to be a database expert, you do need to understand what these search parameters mean.

  • FIELDCODE is a code that tells the database where a keyword might be located in a patent.
  • Keyword is a word related to your invention.

The advantage of the FIELDCODE/keyword approach is that you can focus your attention on exactly what you are looking for. The disadvantage is that it requires a fair amount of skill and practice. The example below should help you get started.

Example of a USPTO Patent Search

Suppose you had an invention related to a new iphone app that helps people find local restaurants. You want to see what has already been filed on this subject in order to verify that your idea is new. You can start out by going to the USPTO patent search page for published applications. You then enter the following search string:


“SPEC” is the field code for “specification”. The specification of a patent application is the written description of how to make and use the invention. This is the largest part of an application and will return all applications have your key word in them. The search string “SPEC/app”, for example, returns 29,319 hits. That’s a lot of documents to look through and many of them aren’t really related to iphone apps. They simply have the word “app” somewhere in them.

Narrow the USPTO Search

You can narrow the USPTO patent search using the field code “ACLM” instead of “SPEC”. ACLM is the field code for the “claims” of an application. The claims are numbered sentences that define exactly what an invention is. The revised search string would look like:


This search string returns 907 hits. That’s more manageable, but it still a lot of applications to look through.

Narrow the USPTO Patent Search Even More

You can narrow the USPTO patent search still further by adding an additional search string such as “ACLM/restaurant”. This will give you results that have both “app” and “restaurant” in the claims. The revised search string then looks like:

ACLM/app and ACLM/restaurant

That search returned only one hit. If that patent application is exactly what you are looking for, then you are done. Chances are, however, that you’ve missed the closest applications. You need to broaden the search a little bit.

Broaden the USPTO Patent Search (just a little bit)

We can broaden the USPTO patent search by using the field code “SPEC” instead of “ACLM” for the secondary keyword “restaurant”. This will give you results with the word “app” in the claims and “restaurant” in the specification. The new search string looks like:

ACLM/app and SPEC/restaurant

That returned 12 hits. That’s a reasonable number of documents to look through to see what sort of restaurant related iphone apps people are trying to patent.

By finding the most effective combination of FIELDCODEs and keywords, it is possible to discover prior patents and patent applications that may conflict (or support) your invention. There are many more fields that you can use in your search. For example, you can search by:

  • who filed an application
  • when it was filed
  • the classification code of the patent

Free Help for USPTO Patent Searching

The USPTO patent search pages take a little bit of practice to get used to. If you get stuck, then give us a call at 203.975.7678. We provide an initial 15 minute consultation at no charge. —Mark Nowotarski