How to Conduct a Patent Search by Inventor

Hands typing on laptop computer
eclipse_images / Getty Images

Searching for inventors by their names can be fun. Who knows if someone you've heard of invented something you never knew about? Unfortunately, you can only search online for people who have invented something since 1976, as the search-by-inventor feature only works for patents issued from that year forward. If you want to search online for any invention older than that, you'll have to use ​the patent number.

There's still lots to be curious about, though. Let's learn how you can look for patents using the inventor's name. Here are the steps, using George Lucas as an example.

Use Correct Syntax

You have to write the inventor's name in the right way
You have to write the inventor's name in a certain format.

Before you can start searching, you have to know how to format your query. You will have to write the inventor's name in a way that the search page's engine will understand your request. Look at how you would format a query for George Lucas' name: in/lucas-george-$.

Prepare Your Search

Inventor's Name - Advanced Search Page
Type the inventor's name in correctly and select the years.

This is an example of what the Advanced Search page will look like when you do a patent search using the name George Lucas.

After you have typed in the inventor's name, change Select Year to 1976 to present [full text]. It is the first choice in the drop-down menu and covers all the patents that are searchable by inventor name.

Click the 'Search' Button

Click on the search button
Click on the search button.

After you have properly formatted and inserted the inventor's name and selected the correct time frame, click on the Search button to initiate your query.

View the Results Page

You will get a "Results" page with paten
You will get a "Results" page with patent numbers and titles listed.

You will get a results page with patent numbers and titles listed, like in this example. Look at the results and select a patent number or title that interests you.

Learn About the Patent

Patent D264,109
Patent D264,109.

After you select one of the patents from the results, the next page will display information about the patent. Here you can read the patent claims, description, and timeline.

View Images

Click on the images button
Click on the images button to view the patent drawings.

When you click on the Images button, you will be able to view high-resolution images of the patent. This is the only place to view the drawings that often accompany a patent.

What If I Can't Find My Inventor?

D264,109 - Patent Drawing
D264,109 - Patent Drawing.

If you're struggling to find your inventor, you likely made an error along the way during your search. Look through the steps again and ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I type in the name in the exact format as the example?
  • Did I spell the inventor's name correctly?
  • Did I set the Select Years choice to 1976 to present?

Rarely, inventor names are misspelled on the patent itself, so if even if you spelled the name correctly, the search engine won't be able to find it unless you make the right mistake.