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BTC1800H5: Patent Research Workshop

A guide to accompany the workshop in patent research fundamentals for MBiotech students

Patent Searching: Numbers

Searching for parents when you only have a number can be sometimes be easy - or surprisingly hard.

The patent number(s) you have in hand will most likely be either:

  • A published patent application, OR
  • A published granted patent

The US, Canada, EPO, Australia, & Germany (among others) use essentially the same base system:

  • Two-character country code + [date - if application] + 1-8 digits (usually 6-7)
    • Examples
      • CA20042525122 (application)
      • US20060409718 (application)
      • CA 2739607 A1 (granted patent)
      • US 4384436 A (granted patent)

Other countries use different systems - check the appropriate patent office to learn more.

However, sometimes other numbers can confuse things.  These include

  • Application numbers (assigned by patent offices when application received - different from the number generated for publication of the application)
  • Priority numbers (a cross-reference application number cited on a patent application if priority rights are claimed)

In general, a number alone may generate many hits - you may need more information, e.g. country of filing, inventor, assignee and/or technology involved to identify the correct patent.

Group Exercise #4

Can you find the patent with the number US 4,314,081 (A), using any of the three search tools discussed in today's workshop?

Which tool seemed to work the best?  What did you learn, if anything, about patent number searching?