Following is a list of resources that may be useful in conducting corporate investigations or general business research. Private investigators often land cases that involve investigating the activities of business almost as often as they do for individuals.
A number of internet websites can guide you in your search for company information. The information available on these sites include links to company websites, business contact information, research tools, and company news.
Beginning a Corporate Investigation
One of the best places to start your corporate investigations research is Dun & Bradstreet. D&B is a leading provider of global business information, data, tools, and insight. Another great resource is the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission EDGAR Database.
The EDGAR database contains information on all companies, foreign and domestic, that are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here you’ll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.
Another great starting point for corporate investigations is Economist.com, an online source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science, and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular industry, business, and country special reports.
Patent and Trademark Information
A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted to an inventor for a period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. As an investigator, you may have a need to determine the original inventor who patented a particular product, such as in an intellectual property investigation.
United States Patent Office (USPO)
The United States Patent Office is the best place to start your research regarding anything having to do with patents. The USPO website allows anyone to find existing patents, including published patent applications and other published patent documentation. In addition to searching the patent database, you’ll find other information such as:
- An overview of the patent process including the necessary application forms and related fees
- An overview of the applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures
- A list of resources and programs for inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses who might need assistance with legal matters, including application filing, etc.
In addition, you can search the trademark database for trademark applications and registrations with the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
Another resource is Free Patents Online. Free Patents Online provides fast, easy-to-use access to millions of patents. Attorneys, inventors, and private detectives use this data for patent searching. Private detectives and researchers use it to keep up with the latest developments in their field.
Other potential resources include CompuMark, the world leader in trademark and copyright services. Thomson & Thomson offers intellectual property research products and services that have gained an unmatched reputation for reliability, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Business Databases and Directories
To look up information on specific companies, we recommend using Hoover’s Online. Hoovers has an extensive database of millions of companies, with in-depth coverage of more than 85 million companies worldwide. Hoover’s editorial staff and researchers bring vital business information and knowledge to their coverage, updating the site daily to bring our visitors and subscribers the most up-to-date business information in the industry.
Also, check out Yellow Pages.com, which as an extensive list of yellow page listings and shopping directories, which have current contact information for millions of companies.
Company Information from an Investment Perspective
Investment advice websites compile a huge amount of data and information about public companies to help people make investment decisions. In addition to providing helpful investment advice, investigators will find a wealth of information about company ownership, structure, history, management, geographic locations, news, and much more. Following are a few sample sites:
- InvestorGuide – The company offers a wide range of services to help individuals with their finances and investments
- Motley Fool – The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor.
- TheStreet.com – The Street is a leading financial media company whose network of Web sites serves as a premier online destination for all areas where money and life intersect.
Online news websites are filled with the latest news about companies and their employees.
- Financial Times – The Financial Times provides financial news, articles, and company profiles.
- Yahoo! Finance – Yahoo! Finance provides extensive financial information, news, tools, and in-depth research on public companies.
Business magazines provide small business owners, such as private investigators, a wealth of information on running a small business. Learn how to make your business more successful by reading stories from business experts and other small business owners.
Business magazines can help you stay in touch with the latest trends, technologies, and products to help run your private investigation agency. Following are some of the hottest business magazines from Amazon.com:
Wired Magazine – WIRED magazine writes about the latest stories from technology, the business world, the political environment, and hot new product trends. A great way to stay in touch with what is going on in business tech.
Entrepreneur Magazine – Entrepreneur magazine provides information for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. It provides articles that focus on technology, business management, marketing, business strategy, and the latest trends. If you’re thinking about starting a small business, this mag is packed with great ideas, inspiration, and even franchise opportunities to help get you started. A great mag for private eyes who are thinking of starting or expanding their business or franchise.
Forbes – Forbes magazine is generally considered the ultimate business magazine. It is geared more toward upper-level management and talks about major issues affecting businesses and corporations. However, even small business owners can learn from insightful articles, research, and data in this publication. It touches on just about every area and issue that affects businesses of all sizes and is a great publication. The perfect mag for private eyes who need to learn about the latest trends in corporate America.
Fast Company Magazine – Fast Company is a business magazine that focuses on the fast pace of business, innovation, and information.
Inc. – Inc. Magazine is the only major business magazine edited exclusively to guide CEOs and owners of small-to-midsize companies to success. Inc. provides fresh, insightful analyses to give the major players in the business world the tools they need to excel.
If you have any questions about corporate investigations, please post a message below.