This section explains how to use the main free patent databases to find patents by assignee, classification, inventor, number or subject (aka prior art searching). Instructions are provided for the USPTO databases, Espacenet, and in some cases, Google Patents. Use the tabs in the box below for instructions on the different types of searching.
There are other patent searching databases available, see the Intellogist for a comparison of these databases.
Tips For Assignee Name Searching
When an inventor signs over his patent property rights to another individual or an organization, that individual or organization is called the assignee. The assignee is most likely to be an organization as most employers require an invention created on company time and equipment be automatically assigned to the company.
If you are looking an individual as an assignee, consider all the name variations that are discussed under the "inventor" tab on this page.
If you are looking for an organization as an assignee, you must also consider name variations:
Before beginning an assignee search, research the company to identify name changes, ownership and subsidiary/parent relationships. Look at the company's website, check out its entry in wikipedia, or use specialized business database that contain company information.
How to Search an Assignee in a Patent Database
Select the "Number Search" feature for either the PatFT or AppFT database. Enter the patent number in the first search box; examples are given below the search for the different types of patents.
In the SmartSearch box enter the two character country code followed by the number; do not put a space in between the country code and the number.
Enter the two character country immediately followed by the patent number (do not put a space in between). Notice how Google will suggest possible items immediately under the search box; click on the appropriate item.