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Seeking guidance for researching competitive products

randomhandyman's Avatargold

Hi all — looking for best practices / search strategies for conducting research for competitive products. At the most basic/straightforward and intuitive, it would seem that a Google (or Bing / Safari if that’s your preference : ) search of a variety of keywords and terms relating to your product, the problem, solutions, etc., — to include a scan of results from Images, Shopping and Web in particular, is the way to go about this. The real question is: is this scratching the surface sufficiently as a process, or are there other processes that also ought to be used? And if this is more or less it, how deep do you go? How many pages deep do you look before determining that you’ve sufficiently if not exhaustively mined the topic? I guess if there was already products/solutions with mass market appeal, they would readily show at the top of a search, but, wondering what EN and other innovators have concluded is appropriate depth of market research for submissions? Thanks in advance!

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magurn's Avatar

Hi Jeffrey,

We always recommend starting with a simple online search – start with Google/Bing/Safari.

Following an initial search, here are some other tips:
When we compare your idea to what’s currently out on the market we’re not necessarily looking for identical concepts. We are trying to see how your idea stands up against what’s currently there or what could potentially break new ground.

Expand your thoughts when doing research and try not be so focused that you miss other leads.

Other methods to explore beyond store visits and internet searching can include other names, phrases and terms that might apply to your product. For example: a water gun – It can be called a squirt gun, super soaker, aqua blaster and more. Using a thesaurus, looking for synonyms and similar tools can help.

If you want to dive deeper into the search and explore patents, here are some resources you can use:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office website (www.uspto.gov) is always a great place to start. There is a wealth of information regarding patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
The PTO offers a printable, PDF brochure available here: http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/edu-inf/BasicPat.... This brochure answers many common questions.
The Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system (www.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair) provides IP customers a safe, simple, and secure way to retrieve and download information regarding patent application status. Please note that an application must be published, and provisional patent applications are unavailable via Public Pair.
Google Patents (www.google.com/patents) is a very helpful tool in that it allows you to search keywords within published applications and issued patents.
Free Patents Online (www.freepatentsonline.com) is a great online resource for conducting a patent search.
The Cornell University Law School website (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/patent) offers helpful explanations of various patent-related concepts.

Good luck!

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dxflyer's Avatar

Exceptional Reply Michelle!

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randomhandyman's Avatargold


Drops mic. Walks away.

: )

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kdc's Avatar

Great info Michelle. Thanks so much.
I would add to check different spellings of words. For example instead of ‘Easy’ try ‘Ezee’ and ‘Eazy’. Instead of ‘Cleaner’ try, ‘Kleaner’.

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jamesritchey's Avatar

Wow I am learning so much, thank you Michelle.

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magurn's Avatar

You are very welcome!

A lot of the information I outlined yesterday is found on the site, but figured I’d package it up for ya! We love to see and help with research efforts!

Good luck to everyone!

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randomhandyman's Avatargold

Thanks for the coaching, Frank — I guess it didn’t translate well, but my earlier reply was a sincere and strong hat-tip to Michelle, as she KILLED the question with her thorough, quality and uber-helpful response. VERY appreciative of Michelle for this answer, and for a few other “noob” questions of mine that she’s tackled in these forums already.

And Michelle, I’ll keep mining the EN site for readily available information FIRST (I guess, as this question suggests, search strategies might not be my strong suit : ) … in my defense, I did mine the forums to see if this had already been raised by the community.

Thanks all!


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magurn's Avatar

No worries at all Jeff. We are working on different changes to the site make these resources a bit easier to find. I’ll make sure to provide updates as these changes are rolled out over time.

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riccihaworth's Avatar

Thanks all for the great info!!

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