View Full Version : Patent searching partial how-to instructions

03-25-2006, 11:40 AM
Cut/paste repost I left on the Cameramakers old site: I have threatened to document how many times. This is the closest I'm come to following thru.


1) Search for anything 1975-to-present by keyword in any of the available
GO TO www.uspto.gov
CLICK on Patents on left side of page. Then CLICK SEARCH patents. CLICK

Or just go here: http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/search-bool.html

2) Search for stuff earlier than 1976. I find the earliest stuff more
interesting for DIY. The later stuff tends to be hi-tech, miniaturized 35 mm
that I can't build with my clumsy thumbs.

You cannot search by keyword pre-1976 because everything has been archived
by scanning and saving as tiff files, typically under 130k each. You need to
have a browser capable of viewing tiff for most effective use, but there are
other ways to et by probably. On the USPTO website are links to AlternaTiff,
a free download browser plugin that integrates display of tiff's into your
browser. From there you can print and save to files the patent pages one at
a time. Beats paying them for copies!

Another trick for old patents. They are saved by patent number. Well, what
if you don't know the patent number? You browse thru the Patent Classes to
find the subject you want, then start browsing the patents by patent number.
Yes, you have to look at each one, but if you went there looking for info on
aerial cameras, for example, you're probably happy to find a list of 20
patent numbers identified for you to look at.

Now to find the patent classes you're interested in.

Lets restrict this discussion to PHOTOGRAPHY only. Class number 396.

http://www.uspto.gov/go/classification/ will give you a search by
Classification page. Put 396 in the left side of the blank and leave
/_______ empty. (See below or follow the link). Then choose .pdf or html. I
just realized today the html version lets you link right to the stuff
directly instead of jotting it down and re-searching.

A. Access Classification Info by Class/Subclass
1. Enter a USPC Classification...

Or, if you want an easy listing of all 14 pages of Photography subclasses by
topic to read first and don't want to navigate the learning curve
http://www.uspto.gov/go/classification/uspc396/sched396.htm for the html

Browse what kind of photography patents you're interested in and and you can click on the red P at the left, which will give you a list of patents in that sub-class. For example, 396, sub-class 145 gives some
bellows/bed type camera patents. Skip the first one. It's politically incorrrect. Do Not Read.

Searching by class number under Query looks like this, for example
ccl/(396/65) - this lists patents under Current Classification 396
(photography) and subclass 65 (I picked that at random & forget what it
was). Such a search will give you the patent numbers under that subject, be
it exposure control or whatever you chose.


03-25-2006, 12:36 PM
I just modified the 2nd from the last paragraph to make it simpler. I also deleted the claim I had the 396 list saved as a pdf on my website. I either deleted it or put it in a sub-directory so the link was dead.

Once you click on one of the Class 396 (Photography) sub-classes of interest to you (there are topic names easily visible), you will see a list of patent numbers. The first several have descriptions, and older ones will have cross-linked multiple classes that cover this patent...that is, the patent with multiple class numbers related to those different categories...more food for exploration if you dare.

Where you will run into a snag is having a .tif plug-in for your web-browser for the USPTO-stored images.

03-25-2006, 05:51 PM
Thanks, Murray. This is very useful info.

03-31-2006, 12:27 PM
Once you have done your searches and just want to download the patents of your choice, you will find pat2pdf.org to be quite useful. Just enter the patent number, wait a few seconds, and they will have a nice pdf file for you todownload. Recently I used it to get copies of Chretien's original anamorphic camera patents from 1927, which were quite helpful to some research that I was doing on Cinemascope.

It's not a search engine, so you have to know what you are looking for, but it's quite useful.

04-01-2006, 06:35 AM
Thanks, BW.

The TIFF plug-in IS a nuisance sometimes.