A patent search before beginning the patent application is recommended, but not required. You can either do a search on the USPTO's official website yourself or pay a fee for our firm to hire an independent searching agent to perform a manual search. A manual search is much more thorough than the search you can perform on the website. While no search can guarantee discovery of all prior art, a thorough search before application preparation can certainly provide you with valuable information on any prior art if they exist. Finding prior art may reduce your chances of obtaining a patent but strengthens any patent you do obtain. In addition, an attorney or agent can do a better job presenting your patent application with all the prior art knowledge in mind.