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Revised FEB. 18, 2007.       A tip to those using the online version of this page. Most of the links in the text are set to open in a new browser window. If you have multiple browser windows open, the "new window" may be one of the others you have open. If you use a browser like FIREFOX 2.x that supports tabs, check the other tabs.


This exposition is hardly more than the "top layer" of an outline of considerations. Hopefully it is enough to enable "newcomers" to get started. Some may review this & decide that patent searching is not something they wish to pursue. Those who proceed are encouraged to study all the "help" materials available on the respective web sites mentioned. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has an extensive HELP section, with additional links on every page displayed during a search process.

PATENT SEARCH HEADER The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has made the record of patents issued in the United States available on the internet. This exposition on patent searching pertains to internet searching. There are other considerations when consulting print or microfilm copies of the Patent Gazette or other similar publications. On the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office web site, patents prior to 1976 can only be searched for by patent number and by notations from the patent classification system.

There are some technical considerations to bear in mind about searching the U.S. Patent Office online database. The actual patent displays are very large image files in the .tiff format. Most browser software needs additional "plug-in" software to display these image files. The following advisory is copied from the U.S. Patent & Trademark web site: TIFF ADVISORY
Most dial-access internet accounts are too slow to effectively use the Patent Office database. Since the patent file images are so large, they take a very long time to download & open unless your computer has fairly high speed Internet access like the service supplied by DSL or Cable Modem.
If you have a patent number or several patent numbers another display option is to use the free pat2pdf web site which will convert all the .tif files for a single patent into .pdfs which are not so demanding of bandwidth.
Another option is to use the GOOGLE PATENT SEARCH, which launched in fall 2006. Bear in mind that the indexes Google created for this service were generated by optical character recognition software scanning microfilm image files. "CYCLE" may have been read as "OYXLE" and "M" as "I V I" by this automated process. It takes patience and a bit of imagination to concoct searches using the GOOGLE PATENT SEARCH.

Some old tool devotees are constructing a database that enables users to search for old patents by date, name, manufacturer, or type of tool. The DATAMP project is a collaborative effort. DATAMP's volunteer "data stewards" search for patents relevant to an area of tool collecting interest, and enter the data into the DATAMP database in a structured format. DATAMP can be used as a source by itself; it also is useful as an "index" for the U.S. Patent Office database. DATAMP

The following list gives the full URLs for the "major" links imbedded in the preceeding paragraphs, and some additional URLs appropriate for a stand-alone print piece:

Our thanks to Russ Allen for permission to publicize links to his patent search "shotguns".