Intellectual property is any product of human intellect that is protected by law from unauthorized use by others. Laws protecting intellectual property falls into four different categories including copyright, patent, trademark, and trade secrets.
Patents describe an innovation as a part of obtaining intellectual property protections. A patent allows a patent holder exclusive rights to making, using, importing and selling a patented innovation for a limited period of time.
Finding existing patents may help you evaluate the intellectual property potential of your own idea. Searching for patent information may also be important for your design process.
Patent searching can be a little complex, because patents use very stylized language, and because they are often filed in particular countries, but several tools can help you find them more efficiently. Search by patent number or keyword.