We often suggest potential client to use internet search engine sites (e.g. Google) or online patent repositories (e.g. IP Australia Auspat , WIPO Patent Scope , Free Patents Online ) to undertake a preliminary search of your invention.
Performing patent searches through internet search database requires the use of keyword searching, which is an art that requires experience to do well. As such, result and accuracy will vary with the experience of the searcher, the lack of relevant results may not imply novelty or a freedom-to-operate. However, results containing relevant patent documents can be an early indicator of concerns or assist in determining an appropriate course of action.