If you are tired of special .TIFF readers and downloading one page at a time from the PTO patent search website, you have two other free choices: Google Patent Search and Freepatentsonline. Google Patent Search is a great resource to quickly screen an invention against issued U.S. patents and published applications using familiar Google searching. If you perform too many searches, the Google search engine will decide that you are a machine and throw you out.
Freepatentsonline is supported financially by intrusive advertising, which is annoying, and uses Boolean searching in several fields, which is useful. Freepatentsonline also allows searching of European Patent Office, World Intellectual Property Organization and Japanese Patent Office databases at one time, a significant benefit.
Both Google and Freepatentsonline allow download of the entire patent at once in .pdf format, which is a tremendous advantage over the PTO patent search website.
A caution about do-it-yourself patent searches: unless you are very familiar with reading patents and distinguishing one invention from another, you can become needlessly discouraged and abandon a valuable invention. Ask us before you give up on an invention. Also, remember that you (and we) have a legal duty to disclose relevant prior art of which you are aware to the PTO during prosecution of your patent application. If you come across something relevant during your search, let us know.
–Robert J. Yarbrough, Esq.