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Question about patent searches

kevin_johnson's Avatar


In the PTO advanced search area mention is made that patents prior to 1975 do not have full search parameters available:

"Patents from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by Issue Date, Patent Number, and Current Classification (US, IPC, or CPC)."

I have always been able to pull up many inventions by the name of the inventor.  However, the above appears to indicate that there are patents which may not come up when simply using the inventor's name.

Does anyone have a definitive answer to this?  It seems like a question that would come up during law school.


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kevin_johnson's Avatar

It seems that I am asking about a process that is conducted behind the scenes here -- I apologize for that.

Here is the genesis for my question...

I regularly do patent searches and recently on a forum a question was asked about a device that was purportedly patented in the 1920s (contemporary reports).  The inventor's name was known and many of his other inventions come up when doing an inventor name or IN/ query at the PTO.

However, the admonition that patents prior to 1975 can only be searched with listed parameters that do NOT explicitly include the inventor's name suggests the possibility that a patent was indeed granted but will require a manual search of thousands of images.  It could also be the case that the name of the inventor actually IS a valid search parameter and that the wording on the USPTO site is inadvertently mistaken.  Further, it could also be the case that the answer to this question is unknown.  Sadly, much institutional knowledge is lost as experts in the field pass away or retire.

I have done manual searches before, even years ago on microfilm prior to the establishment of online databases.  I do these searches as an intellectual courtesy to forum members.

If this is considered proprietary and monetized expert knowledge in the forum then I will understand completely.

Kind regards,


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