Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finding Patents

You may have heard about Amazon's new patent that will help gift recipients avoid unwanted gifts. If not, see the December 27, 2010 Seattle Times article.

Maybe you're curious about reading the patent itself. If so, you can locate the patent online at the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website, which provides full-text patents from 1976 to the present. You can enter keywords like "amazon" and "gift" to retrieve a list of 137 results, but unless you have the patent number, it's not necessarily obvious that "system and method for converting gifts" is the patent you're seeking.

Fortunately, other news reports, like Business Week's, have included the patent number-- 7,831,439-- and its November 9, 2010 issue date. You can now go back to the Patent and Trademark Office's site and find this patent by using the number search.

The University of Washington's Engineering Library is another good resource for patent researchers. The Engineering Library, an official Patent and Trademark Depository Library, receives patent and trademark research tools from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These resources, meant to be available to the public as well as to the UW community, are listed here. Also available are step-by-step guides to patent and trademark research.

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