The patent process can be expensive. Getting an idea of where you stand before you start spending money can save time and money.
Write down some features
Almost every invention is either a combination of physical features or a combination of steps. That list of features can serve as your earliest rough draft definition of what you invented.
Looking for those features in Google Patents is the quickest way to find quality examples of what others have done before.
One of the references you find will be the closest one to your invention. Print or save that reference. This is the earliest clue about whether your invention might be patentable.
Comparing the features of the closest reference to the features of your invention will help you understand what is new about the invention. However, do not discount an invention feature just because the closest reference that you found teaches that feature. The ultimate analysis of patentability is much more complicated and may not even rely on the reference you initially identified as the closest reference.
by: John Edel
Baton Rouge Patent Attorney