Looking for further information on patents and the patenting process to explore on your own?
An excellent book for those wanting to understand the fundamentals is Patent It Yourself by David Pressman, published by Nolo Press.
Patents can also be searched on the US Patent and Trademark Office site, but the searches and image loads can be quite slow.
The USPTO site contains other vital information, including file histories for more recent patents, as well as the source of all rules and laws governing patents, the staggering Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP).
Web sites where you can search patents for free:
Free Patents Online
Google Patent Search
US Patent and Trademark Office
Canadian Intellectual Property Office
European Patent Office – esp@cenet