The most efficient use of your time and funds is to consult with a patent attorney about the process. You could search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database (it has a helpful tutorial) if you haven’t already.

However, professional patent searches are more in-depth . . . plus, there are many technicalities not generally known that could affect the strength of the patent.

A qualified patent attorney can help you navigate this area smoothly and advise you properly of any pitfalls.