Thursday, February 16, 2006

Another patent question


Have you ever found an index by patent holder?



Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Nothing on-line for general patents. There are some specialized lists, particularly for early patents (pre-1836), several compiled by state but sortable. That's about it.

What we need is for someone to scan the annual Patent Digests and make them available on-line. (Maybe we can interest our friends with the CPRR Museum in taking on the project – especially for the 19th century patents.)

If you know a patent name and date, but not the number, it is a most frustrating process to actually find the patent. Sorting through every patent issued on a single date in the mid 1800s entails going through 100 - 150 individual patents. I've done it on occasion (and found some interesting things along the way), but it is time consuming.

Again for reference for all, see the Patent Office web site. Also see the Patent classification System. If looking at patents, you need to download the freeware graphic viewer by following the link on the Patent Office site. Once you've done that, be prepared to spend many hours wandering enjoyably through the site. You need to have the actual patent number (not the date or name) to find an individual patent. By using the classification system you can find lots of interesting patents in various topics, but only rarely have I actually found a single patent that I was looking for that way.


2/16/2006 9:36 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

It would be very surprising if the Patent Office didn't have plans to index the earlier patents that they already have online, or perhaps to do optical character recognition of the already scanned original patent page images to make them searchable. Have you checked what projects are planned or underway?

Are copies of the annual Patent Digests available to you? About how many pages are involved? Does the Google Library Project plan to scan these?

For the present, if you have the date of the patent, the following may be of some help:

Table of historic patent numbers vs. year

Patent date vs. number chart

2/16/2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Here is a list with several patent number series in addition to the main one.

Patent digests are available at libraries with government documents sections – probably mainly large University libraries, State libraries and perhaps large city libraries. They might also be available on microfiche – they may be included in the annual Congressional records.

I've no idea what projects are in the offing, but I doubt the Patent Office has many plans for making the 19th century material more accessible. I note the European patent offices do not even have the 19th century material on line at all – the US is the big exception in making the early material "easily" available


2/16/2006 9:48 PM  

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