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EIN 4912: Integrated Product and Process Design   Tags: engineering, industrial_engineering, patents  

Helping you find design ideas through patents, etc.
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Patent search engines

  • U.S. Patent Database
    has patents from 1790-present. For 1790-1975, you need the patent number to retrieve full images (no keyword searching). For 1976-present, keyword-search the full text. also searches patent applications. Images require special TIFF viewer.
  • Google Patent Search
    Keyword search, or use the Advanced Patent Search page to search by patent number, inventor, and filing date. Has more PDFs of older (pre-1976) patents. Doesn't have most recent months.
  • Patent Lens
    searches US (USPTO), European (EPO), Australian (AU), and World (WIPO) patents, together or separately, with coverage only back to 1976 at earliest.
  • Espacenet
    Search the European Patents or patents from individual European countries as well as worldwide. Dates of coverage vary by country. May be more up-to-date than Google Patents.
  • FreePatentsOnline
    searches U.S. patents. Offers advanced searching techniques. Displays most popular topics and companies. Full-text is not available for some documents prior to 1976. Displays lots of ads.

finding design ideas

Where do you find inspiration for design ideas? Patents!

These pages have some tips and tricks for searching patents -- which is a tricky exercise because:

* Most patents protect a function rather than an application -- such as, an extruder rather than a device for making donuts or drinking straws.

* Many large and complex products are governed by multiple patents developed over time by different inventors.

* Some inventors (and their patent attorneys) deliberately use obscure language to hide their intentions until a product is released.

* Many patents do not contain the product, brand, or trade name.  They may be trying to hide, or they may not have devised the product name at the time of the patent application.

* Some products (such as Gatorade) are not patented, often because the inventor does not want the secrets to be published.


Types of patents

Patent websites vary in coverage. Some only have full text or images for recent years. Some have better quality images than others. In some search engines, keywords only work on recent years. If you are doing a full, deep, and serious search, be sure to identify and search on the patent classifications as well as keywords.

There are three types of U.S. patents:
1) Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
2) Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
(from USPTO website)

... and patents include definitions of terms used. Remember, though, that patents are written by attorneys and not by engineers!



Use Google Patents when searching with keywords.

Use the USPTO Classification Menu when searching for a class/subclass or to find class definitions. 


Did you know?

US Patent 5000000 belongs to UF


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