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QUESTION: I am in the process of developing a product. There are a couple similar products out there but mine will have a few minor changes to the design. Wondering if I need to do a patent search if there are already competitors in the space. Can I do it on my own? If not, what would an attorney need from me?

ANSWER: A patent (prior art) search can help you determine the likelihood of receiving a patent. It can also help to determine if your product is already infringing an existing patent. One can do a patent search without an attorney by using the patent search engine on the USPTO website. If you want an attorney to do the search, you need to provide at least drawings of your invention.

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