Early Days in the NYPL Patents CollectionFor about a decade now it has been feasible to conduct prior art research for a U. S. Patent entirely online using free search tools available on the USPTO website. Although the availability of patent research resources online has not diminished the challenges of prior art searching, it has certainly made the activity more convenient.
For some patent research projects, however, available online tools may not be the best or easiest resources to employ. So, for those contingencies, as well as in recognition of our very important and valuable collections of patent resources here at NYPL, we're posting this revised guide to our collections of historical U.S. Patent text, indexes and finding aids in print, microform and electronic formats, as well as other patent resources.
If you are not in the New York City area, you may want to visit the USPTO's Patent and Trademark Resource Centers Program pages for more information on Patent Resource Centers in your area. The PTRCP gives information on the libraries around the United States that collect patents and trademarks. To locate the PTRC nearest you, use the Linked List by State to Libraries.
Patent Indexes and Finding Aids in Print and Microform
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The Official Gazette of the US Patent and Trademark Office: Patents
This weekly publication lists all the patents registered in a given week, arranged by patent number, providing bibliographic information — title, inventor name(s), assignee — a representative drawing, and an exemplary claim describing what the invention does. It lists the week's notices concerning regulations, reexaminations, and expirations, and it provides an alphabetical index of that week's inventors and assignees and a list of patent numbers by class/subclass.
SIBL has print and microfilm of the Official Gazette from 1872 to its final distribution in paper format on February 22, 2005.
Index of Patents
SIBL has this annual from 1872 to the final print issue in 2002. This title has been published under various names such as Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents and General Index of the Official Gazette. The Index to Patents lists patents by inventor and assignee name and by general subject. It provides the patent number, registration date, and the volume and page number where it can be found in the Official Gazette.
This one volume index is the specially prepared companion to the microfilm copies of the U.S.'s early, unnumbered patents (i.e., those that were issued from 1790 to 1836). It lists these earliest patents by patent class, then alphabetically by invention title and by issue date. These lists give the specific microfilm reel number where the full text, specifications, and drawings are located.
This three volume set lists all patents granted from 1790 to 1873 alphabetically by the subject of the patent. It gives inventor's names, their residences, the registration date, and the patent number for those granted after 1836. There is no listing by inventor name or registration date in this set.
These volumes include reprinted copies of the annual reports prepared by the Commissioner of Patents from 1790 to 1847. The information in them varies, but generally includes lists of the patents arranged alphabetically by subject of the patent or chronologically by issue date. The Early Unnumbered United States Patents,1790 to 1836 and Index of Patents: 1790 to 1873 (described above) present all the bibliographic information included in these four separate volumes, but in a much more useful format.
Produced by the National Association of Plant Patent Owners, this source indexes all plant patents granted from the beginning of the series in 1931 to 1993. It indexes plant patents by plant patent number, plant species, plant denomination, originator (inventor), and assignee.
U.S. Patents - Text and Images
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Copies of patents, patent applications, and many other patent-related filings are available on the USPTO web site. Patent searching can be done directly on the USPTO's web site. Full text and images are available for patents from 1976 to the most recent Tuesday. Images, current classification numbers and patent numbers only are available for patents from 1790 to 1975. The USPTO's web page offers excellent information on all aspects of patents, including fee schedules, online versions of their most popular brochures, forms, and background information on patents.
In addition, U.S. patents are available from the European Patent Office's Espacenet website, and from Google Patents as well as various other free and fee-based online resources.
The full text and images of US patents from 1790 through 2011 in different formats are available from SIBL as follows:
Search our Catalog for More Books about Patents!
Other Patent Resources
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This manual is produced by the US Patent and Trademark Office and details all of the procedures used by patent examiners when dealing with a patent application. It is a good source for precise requirements of a patent application. Now online, earlier versions are available at SIBL - speak to a librarian or search our catalog to find them.
Provides information in non-technical language concerning patent laws and applying for a patent.
A list by state, name, and address of practitioners authorized to practice before the USPTO.
Includes information and ordering instructions for products and services available from the USPTO's Information Dissemination Organizations.
This quarterly law reporter covers cases relating to patents, trademarks, and copyrights. It arrives in weekly advance sheets and cumulates quarterly. Additionally, it has annual and cumulative digests.