Searching the patent literature can help you to learn about other engineers' novel approaches to solving design and analysis problems similar to your own. A thorough patent search can also help you to determine if your solution can be patented!
Patent searching is complex and time consuming. Plan on spending a few hours learning the search process and additional hours searching and evaluating results.
You will need to document your search. Keep careful records of what databases you search, what terms and classification numbers you search in the databases, document numbers of the patent and application documents that you retrieve and examine, and the date and time of your search.
Keyword searching alone is never enough. A comprehensive patent search requires that you search by classification and sub-classification numbers.
If you need help, contact me. I am available by phone or e-mail for quick answers to questions, or by appointment for extended consultations. You can find my contact information on the opposite side of this page.
If you intend to make, use, or sell an invention of yours, you should find out whether someone else has created something like it already. You have a number of options when it comes to searching for patents. Below are some patent searching sites.