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If I have an idea for what I believe is a new product, how do I check for previous patents?

I have an idea and a design for a new item. I've searched the web and can't find this product--but that doesn't mean it does not exist. I don't know whether I need to pay a service to check patents or if I can continue with my idea. Also, if I need to search patents, how do you find the correct agency to go through?
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.

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