Guide to finding patents, based on the collections of the State Library of Victoria
Are you searching for a patent registered in the United States ?
Do you know?
If you know these details contact staff who can order the relevant patent from our offsite store. You can view or copy the patent in the Library. When ordering this item, the Library staff will need to include the patent number and the date (it is optional to include patent title and patentee's name).
If you do not have these details you will need to search the relevant indexes (see US Patent Indexes box on this page). Indexes are held onsite and offsite. Contact staff to order offsite indexes. To initially refine your search, refer to the Finding patents page in this guide.
Utility Patent or Patents for Invention
Statutory Invention Registration (SIR)
Full descriptions of each type of US Patent as published by the USPTO
• Printed Patents - Not held
• Microfilm - United States Patents - 1920 to 1996 - YA 608UN3P - held offsite at Ballarat Store
• Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office - 1872 to 1901 + 1923 to 1985 - YA 608 UN3G - contains Names of applicants and brief abstracts
• Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 1899-2002 (Hathi Trust Digital Library) - contains Names of applicants and brief abstracts
Name & subject indexes - print
• Index of patents issued from the United States Patent (and Trademark) Office - 1927 to 1973 + 1974 to 1986 - YA 698 UN3IP - includes name Indexes & Subject Indexes - (title varies)
• Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office - 1872 to 1901 + 1923 to 1985 - YA 608 UN3G - (title varies) - includes Name Indexes & Subject Indexes
• Annual report of Commissioner of Patents - 1843 to 1965 (incomplete) - YA 608 UN3A - title varies - includes Name and Subject (title keyword) Indexes
Name & subject indexes - online
• Indexes from the 'Annual report of Commissioner of Patents' and the 'Index of patents issued from the United States Patent Office' - 1842 to 1958 (incomplete) - (Hathi Trust Digital Library) - includes Name and Subject (title keyword) Indexes
Subject indexes - print
• Subject-matter index of patents for inventions issued by the United States Patent Office from 1790 to 1873, inclusive (1976) - 3 volumes - R 608 UN3S
The famous American actress of the 1940s, Hedy LaMarr, was also an inventor, although she had no formal training or technical qualifications.
During World War II she came up with the concept of frequency hopping as a solution to the problem of the enemy jamming radio signals used in the remote control of torpedoes.
The patent was registered by the United States Patent Office on August 11, 1942 under LaMarr's real name, Hedy Kiesler Markey. United States patent number 2,292,387.
The concept was rejected by the US Navy, but after the war the patent was rediscovered and the technology was used in communications technology during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It is used in wireless technology today.
The patent is on the US patents website under the title Secret Communication System. Hedy LaMarr registered the patent under the name Hedy Kiesler Markey with her colleague Geoge Antheil.
There is information about the invention in a blog LaMarr's daughter wrote: A Movie Star, Some Player Pianos, and Torpedoes
Search for United States patents on the website of the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)
Pre-1976 patent searches are limited to patent numbers and classification codes.
1790 to 1975 - Images of patent applications with specifications and diagrams. Searchable only by Issue Date, Patent Number, and Current US Classification
Example: Patent number 1935 from January 20, 1841. Lifeboat. Inventor: S.C. Batchelor.
From 1976 onwards, you can search using Quick search, Advanced search and patent number.
2001 onwards: Search the full text and image database.
Search for patents from 1790 onwards.
Free patent search tool: PDF files of US patents
Search by US patent number. It displays the full text and diagrams of all US patents.
Examples: Nikola Tesla patent "Apparatus for transmitting electrical energy." Application filed January 18, 1902. Renewed May 4, 1907. Patented December 1, 1914. Patent number 1119732.
Alan A. Ford patent number 5,123,471, June 23, 1992. Adjustable vertical vane hanger.
The patent numbers of inventions of famous American inventors may be listed on the Internet. Try a Google search using terms such as the name of the inventor and the word patents.
For example, the titles and patent numbers for many of Nikola Tesla's inventions are listed on Wikipedia The site also includes the patent numbers for his patent applications lodged in Britain, Canada, France and Spain.
The American patents have the patent number and a direct link to the Google Patents web page featuring the patent.
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was the inventor of the first machine to effectively use Alternating Current (AC) electricity, the system of electricity used widely in machines today.
Tesla also developed wireless telegraphy (ahead of Guglielmo Marconi), fluorescent lights, a remote control boat, and much more.
You can find digitised images of many of Tesla's inventions on the Google Patents website