In the past, if you wanted to assess the novelty of an idea, you had to wade through the patent database at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in Virginia -- or hire a lawyer to do a patent search for $500 and up. The cost and inconvenience of these searches often meant that good ideas were left to rot on the vine. Patent Searching Made Easy shows you how do patent searches yourself, on the Internet, at little or no cost. Plus, you'll learn how to: . verify the patent status of an idea . prepare for online searches with the right hardware, software and computer skills . access online patent searching resources . narrow online searches with keywords and Boolean logic . perform database searches at Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRC) . do prior art searches at PTRC . search fee-based patent databases on the Internet . search international patent offices . do advanced searches at the PTO and PTRC Written for both inventors and business owners interested in expanding their product line through the license, distribution or manufacture of other people's ideas, Patent Searching Made Easy is the easiest way for you to determine the answer to that all-important question, ""Am I the first?"" A physicist, engineer, and patent searching expert, author David Hitchcock gives you the vocabulary, instructions and strategies you need to search for a patent quickly and easily. He explains how the PTO classifies different types of inventions, so that you can assign your idea to the right class, compare it to related ideas and then determine if it's novel enough to qualify for a patent.