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Written by : Elois Woodhull
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want to know how to look up patents this video is going to give you everything you need to know to look up patents regardless whether you just have information that says it's something is patent pending whether you have a number or whether you just have a company name so stick around we are starting right now so for those of you who are new here my name is dylan adams i am a patent attorney and author of the best-selling book patents demystified which is an insider's guide to protecting ideas and inventions used by startups inventors entrepreneurs worldwide including at top universities like harvard stanford and mit you might also recognize me from my appearance on cnbc's hit show the uh the prophet with marcus lemonis so this channel is all about giving you the insider tips on protecting ideas and inventions that i use every day with my clients whether they be fortune 100 companies startups or shark tank companies so be sure to subscribe the channel for more and hit that little bell icon so you don't miss any videos all right let's go ahead and get right into it so when answering the question of how to look up patents i'm actually going to give you information on how to look up issued patents and pending patent applications the reason is because most people use the term patent incorrectly and they'll they'll use the term patent to describe pending patent applications they're actually very different so you have to file a patent application and the patent application has to go through the examination process at the united states patent and trademark office and then the patent will hopefully be allowed and then will issue as a patent so you have the stage where you have a patent application where it's called a only a patent application and then if that patent application is allowed and issues then you can call that a patent and so most of the time people are going to be saying looking up patents and what they really mean is looking at patents and patent applications so keep that in mind i'm going to be talking about both patent applications and patents when i talk about looking up patents in this video now when i'm looking at patents or patent applications i usually use one of two sources one is going to be the united states patent and trademark office which is uspto.gov or i'll just use google patents i think google patents is probably a better interface that's what i tend to use more it's a lot easier to quickly look up related prior art and to download a pdf of the patent application or the or the issued patent and it's easier to do keyword searches and i think that it's a little bit faster than the uspto website so i tend to use google google patents that tends to be my favorite but there are some times especially where there's new publications where google hasn't captured the new publication data some new stuff may not be captured on google patent so you may have to do some redundant searching or especially if you're searching for things that are really new or you're having trouble finding things you may need to do some searching on the uspto website because that's the official database where all patent publications and issued patents are going to be stored and where you're where anybody else is going to be getting things that's where the official stuff is and that's kind of the important thing to note here is that you know everything this is going to be published patent application issued patents and they're issued by the uspto and they are published by the uspto now you're going to have a really easy time if you have some sort of number to look up and there are going to be three main numbers that you that you hopefully will have if you're going to be able to look up a patent or pending patent application or publish patent application so every patent application and every issued patent has a patent application number so you file a patent application you get an application number and when that patent issues that patent application number is still associated with the issued patent number so the other number is going to be the issued patent number you only get an issued patent number after the patent application has been filed ever goes to the examination process after it's allowed an issue fee is paid and then it actually issues as a granted patent that's when you'll get a patent number so then also there can be a publication number so by default patent applications are held in in secrecy for 18 months from their earliest priority date so if you start with a non-provisional patent application it will publish 18 months after you file that original non-provisional patent application or if you start with a provisional patent application wait a year and then file a non-provisional patent application the non-provisional patent application will then will then publish eight months after you file the non-provisional patent application there are some exceptions so um you can file what's called a non-publication request um you can you can say hey uspto i don't want you to publish my patent application while it's still pending it will still have to publish if it issues as a patent so every issued patent will publish and be publicly available but not every pending application will publish you can you can just file a non-publication request if you want to but you're not able to file a non-publication request if you file for foreign patent protection i would say most of the time people don't file non-publication requests but keep them keep in mind though when you're searching for stuff um especially if you don't have a patent application or or patent number or publication number um that you know something may not be public there may be patents or patent or they may be patent applications out there but they just may not be published so you're probably asking yourself what do these patent applications look like so let me give you some examples so let's start off with the patent application number so the patent application number it's going to have eight digits and typically it's going to be two numbers a slash and then three numbers a comma and three numbers i'll give you an example here and i'll give you an example here so there's uh you know like you know as you can see two numbers and typically it's going to be you know something that's going to be kind of low you know a lot of times it's going to be say 15 or 16. there's going to be a slash and then there's going to be six numbers um three numbers separated by a a comma with another three numbers you know sometimes people don't use the slash sometimes people don't use the comma but this is how you're going to be able to tell if you have a patent application number and for patent publications you can usually tell those right off because they're going to have 11 digits starting with a year that's going to be four digits so i'll give you an example here and i'll give you an example here so you have a year and in in four digits so it could be 2020 it could be 2015 2017. typically there's going to be a slash and then there's going to be seven digits every once in a while because you know it's ther
Thanks for your comment Cletus Dinsdale, have a nice day.
- Elois Woodhull, Staff Member
patent application numbers are the key to unlocking some of the most valuable information in the patent world first patent application number searching is not hard but there are more steps and problems with the process than you might think every u.s patent comes from a patent application number remember this eight digit format bottom line if you do you can recognize patent application numbers if you don't there are plenty of other eight digit numbers out there to confuse you specifically look for two digits a forward slash three digits a comma and then three more digits both the pre-grant publication and the patent grant come from a single patent application number by now you're probably thinking how could searching for an eight-digit number be a problem in the age of the internet here's the deal first there are way too many eight-digit numbers in the patent world second the patent application number isn't really an eight-digit number it's a two-digit number smashed together with a six-digit number and even that as an oversimplification the first part of a patent application number is the series code the second part of the patent application is the serial number when they get to 999 9999 within a series code then they start a new series code for the next application this would just be trivia if it weren't for the fact that some searches aren't smart enough to deal with series codes so how do you find the patent application numbers the patent office generates a patent application number during the electronic filing process the patent application number would generally show up in an initial filing receipt but be careful there are two eight digit numbers at the top of the filing receipt if you grab the wrong number you could end up wasting a lot of time looking for a patent application that doesn't exist this is one of the instances where it doesn't show up with special formatting if you're getting some value click the like button soon after filing the patent office will issue a confirmation filing receipt here's an example from the same patent application notice in this case the application number is in the top left hand corner after that correspondence from the uspto generally comes under a cover letter the cover letter looks a lot like the cover page on the confirmation filing receipt just like before the patent application number appears in the top left data field how do you search using a patent application number before i answer that an important warning the uspto patent search is not that great of a place to search with a patent application number that search is so cumbersome and ineffective i don't use it for that purpose if you enter a full patent application number in the uspto search it will reject your query bottom line the uspto patent search is lousy at searching its own patent application numbers so what is the best search tool for patent application numbers the truth is there aren't many great options my goal is to show you the best search path here there is no single best path the shortest paths often end up in dead ends so first i'm going to walk you through the longer more reliable path after that i'll show you how to do it fast remember fast is only great if it works if it's not working you need to go back to the reliable path i don't want you to get frustrated most attorneys are working with the same limited tools that i'm showing you one of the better ways to search for a patent application number is to search in the public pair system pair stands for patent application information retrieval to get to the uspto pair system go to uspto.gov click the patents button and under find it fast then click public pair application number is selected by default so just enter the application number in the box that says enter number clicking search should take you to the application page if the search isn't working try entering the application with a forward slash after the first two digits sometimes pair will give you a weird error like the application number is not available if you got the application number from a non-confidential document it's probably in the system keep trying and you should get through inside pair you can access data documents and publications the tabs across the top help you navigate the information on the right-hand side of the page the document number for the pre-grant publication will be listed in the field earliest publication number below that if the case was patented there will be a patent number in the patent number field the most interesting and likely most used tab is the image file wrapper tab it contains the record of the correspondence between the patent examiner and the applicant this document set is often referred to as the prosecution history remember to click subscribe for more patent startup information if you want publications like the patent grant click on the publish documents tab in that tab you'll find a button for each publication pair is my favorite option for patent prosecution documents that's because i don't like the risk that some other database has an imperfect copy of those documents for patent publications everybody has them and i'm generally more concerned about speed of access now how do you get documents the quickest just remember if these methods don't work go back to the slower more reliable methods patent scope is very fast and usually gets the document i want for patent scope you just type the application number into the main search box and click enter that usually works but if it doesn't you can use the drop down to search by application number and that should improve your chances google patents is also very fast but is unsuccessful more often i usually only search google patents for application numbers if i'm already in google patents honestly i'm still looking for a shorter more reliable path to the right information from patent application numbers if you know of a better method by even one or two clicks share it with me in the comments i'll try to keep the best answer pinned to the top of the comments now for one of the best uses of the patent application number even better you don't need any special training as an attorney to use or understand this method this is the eye-opening comparison i was talking about in the beginning here are the three easy steps using the application number look up the us pre-grant publication and the u.s patent number two print them out and set claim 1 of the pre-grant publication next to claim 1 of the new patent grant now highlight all the language in claim 1 of the patent that isn't in the other claim one what do all these highlights represent they're usually a really good reflection of the compromises the patent applicant had to make to get the patent in other words there's a really good chance you just ran your highlighter over one of the most important weaknesses in the patent if you're searching because you're interested in getting your own patent check out my next video it covers some of the main reasons you might want to file a provisional patent application
Thanks nicheaffilV your participation is very much appreciated
- Elois Woodhull
About the author
I've studied ecology at Logan University in Chesterfield and I am an expert in museology. I usually feel listless. My previous job was law clerks I held this position for 12 years, I love talking about astronomy and via ferratta. Huge fan of Adam Brody I practice softball and collect pin-back buttons.
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