If you know the patent number use either Google Patents or the USPTO website to find the patent. Enter the patent number without commas and when using the USPTO website the patent number must be seven numbers in length (add preceding zero's if necessary).
Google Patents enter the patent number in the search box.
Patent Number = 6,863,940 enter as patent 6863940
USPTO website enter the patent number in the search box.
Patent Number = 654,321 enter as 0654321
Google - Advanced Patent Search
Not as up-to-date as the United States Patent Database.
Enter the name of the inventor - first name-last name - in the inventor search box
United States Patent Database (PatFT)
In "Term 1:" box, enter the the inventor's name: last name-first name-initial.
Example: Inventor name = Louis A. Carpino; enter Carpino Louis A
In "Field 1:, "use the arrow to scroll down to "Inventor Name."
Be sure to search for all variant forms of the inventor's name. The inventor name may be different from the assignee name.
Having some understanding of the changes in patent information may help you understand why using the USPTO search database may be difficult. Here is some context:
1. The USPTO patent database (PatFT = Patents Full Text) is divided into two parts:
- patents from 1976 onwards which can be searched using keywords along with other parameters
- patents from 1790-1975 which can only be searched using the Issue Date, Patent Number and Current U.S. Classification.
This means if your invention builds upon older technology you will most likely need to search this pre-1975 database and therefore need to determine the U.S. Classification of the invention in order to do a thorough search including older patents.
2. Searching the USPTO database using keywords in not ideal because your search terms may not be the same words as the invention.
For example, if you were to search Rubik's Cube you would most likely not find the invention titled Spatial logical toy (U.S. Patent US4378116 A)
3. Patent applications are in their own database called AppFT (Applications Full Text).
This field contains the name of the individual or entity to whom ownership of the patent was assigned at the time of patent issue.
TIP: If the assignee was a person, and you want to search for the full name, you should format your query as follows: last name-first name-initial. If the assignee was a company, and you were not sure of the exact name, you could truncate on a portion of the name.
You might need to search variations of the company name. Also, it is important to know the relationship between a subsidiary and parent company.
Trace changes in patent ownership using the
Patent Assignment Search