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A DIY search is a good place to start. We recommend the USPTO website. What you will conduct is, in all likelihood similar to a ‘knock-out search’ (see below). However, a DIY search is the start, not the end of the process. Just because you do not locate a precise patent on point, unfortunately does not mean that your invention will be patentable. Learn more about ‘obviousness’ here.
We conduct a ‘knock out’ search as part of our ‘initial consultation service’. Is my invention novel? Has my specific idea been patented before?
This is a comprehensive search of prior art, including worldwide patent databases based on keywords chosen to capture your invention and to capture the most likely characterizations of the inventions of others likely to impact on yours. Is my invention patentable? Is it novel and not obvious in light of the prior art?
This is an analysis and comparison of what you do (or want to do) against patent rights owned by a third party. Do you infringe their patent?
A freedom to operate search (and opinion) attempts to establish whether or not what ‘you want to do’ infringes on any patent rights of any third party. Do you infringe any patent?