Patents are given to creators of original inventions. They are awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO maintains an extensive database of all patents issued from 1790 to the present day. The patent database is updated on a weekly basis, and you can go online to look up information on patents as well as pending patent applications. All patents are assigned a number. If you do not know the patent number for an invention, you can use alternate search terms to find the invention in question and then locate the patent number.
Visit the USPTO’s Full-Text Patent and Image Database. This is where you will carry out your search for a patent number. Inventions patented between 1790 and 1975 will be listed in the database with the patent number and issue date. Inventions patented from 1976 to the present day will include additional information such as a text description and photo of the invention.
Enter a search term in the “Term 1” box. This would be a keyword that you want to use to narrow your search. For example, if you know the inventor’s name, you could enter it in the box.
Identify a corresponding field for the first search term. If you entered the inventor’s name in the “Term 1” box, then you would select “Inventor Name” in the corresponding field.
Decide which years you want to search in. You can limit your search to inventions patented after 1976, or search for inventions patented all the way back to 1790.
Review the search results. If your initial search does not bring up the patent you are searching for, try different search terms. For example, you could search under a city or state.
To narrow down your search results, enter a keyword in the “Term 1” box and the optional “Term 2” box.
The USPTO cautions that patents issued prior to 1976 can only be searched by the issue date and classification if you do not know the patent number. A classification is the category for the invention, such as tools or apparel.
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