I am currently developing a line of wooden puzzles, arts & crafts, and classic toys that leverage existing products but designed and illustrated for a niche market. Obviously not wanting to invest in a business to later realize the foundation has been built on infringed intellectual property rights, I have been searching through the US patent database. My question to this community is what is the best way to identify whether a product marketed by a certain company is patented or not? I would hate to put myself and the future of the business at risk based on a inadequate patent search criteria. Are companies generally willing to offer this type of information to the general public or indirect competitors?
Thank you for any insight you are able to offer.