Derwent Innovations Index (DII).
DII allows you to search against enhanced titles and abstracts, as well as the Derwent Manual and Derwent and International Patent Classification (IPC) codes for patents from 1963 to the present from 40 major patent-issuing authorities. You can use the assignee field to search for a competitor's patents.
Sample Search: (RFID or radio frequency identification) AND drug test* in Topic.
Sample Title: Disposable container maintenance/tracking/identification method in drug testing industry, involves separating radio frequency identification device from vial for reuse, after scanning RFID.
Sample Search: Assignee Search: IBM or International Business Machines in Assignee field.
Sample Search: Inventor Search: Gorte RJ in Inventor field.
Alternative Inventor Search: Gorte R* in Inventor field - broadens search to include any or no middle initial.
Searching the current patent literature will give you an idea of similar technologies in existence and the companies that produce them. If there are several patents in existence for related technologies, then maybe your idea is not new. Check the claims information in existing patents to make sure your idea is not infringing on those patents.
Patents also give you a large amount of technical information, with detailed descriptions and diagrams. Operational information, along with names of founders and competitors, can often be gleaned from patents.
If you are doing a patent search as preparation to filing a patent application, it is critical to consult a patent attorney and not just rely on searching the following resources.
The Patent Public Search tool is a new web-based patent search application that will replace internal legacy search tools PubEast and PubWest and external legacy search tools PatFT and AppFT, which are scheduled to be retired in September 2022.