Guide to finding patents, based on the collections of the State Library of Victoria
The information below should be used in conjunction with the tabs above. This page gives broad information about finding patents. The tabs above will give more specific information for finding guides registered in a specific state / colony or country, during a particular period.
Step 1 – retrieve patent from relevant collection (print or online)
- you will need the geographic location & date & patent number
Step 1 – you will need to determine the relevant geographic location (e.g. Victoria)
Step 2 – you will need to determine the relevant date or d
Step 3 – if a geographic location and date or
NOTE - if a geographic location cannot be established indexes from a range of states and countries will need to be searched
Step 4 - order patent from relevant collection (print or online)
– you will need the date & geographic location
Step 1 – list what information that you have about the patent
(a) the geographic location (state, country or region) registering the patent
(b) the inventor’s name
(c) the date the patent was registered
(d) the nature of the invention (e.g. sheep shears)
Step 2 – or, determine the geographic location and date, by checking number and date sequences for different Country and State collections [see Patents Guide]
Step 3 – or, determine the geographic location and date, by ‘number searching’ online indexes
Step 4 - retrieve patent from relevant collection (print or online)
– identify a relevant patent, as this can provide detailed information about the machine
Step 1 – does the part have a name or number on it ?
Step 2 – does the word “patent” or “pat” appear on the part ?
Step 3 – if there are names or numbers on the part, patent indexes referred to in this guide can be checked to identify a relevant patent. A number of the pages of this guide provide patent number sequences applicable in different countries, and over various date ranges. These lists may help pinpoint a relevant patent and its country of registration.
Step 4 – if a patent cannot be identified, search library catalogues for published guides to machinery. One example is Old farm machinery in Australia: a fieldguide & source. This book covers "old agricultural implements, machinery and engines, used in Australia, whether manufactured here or overseas". These guides can be very useful in identifying machines and their makers. Another useful source is The Old Machinery Magazine.
Step 5 – if you still cannot find the information that you need, you can send an online enquiry on the State Library of Victoria website. Click on the link to the State Library homepage and then click on the Ask a librarian link at the top of the web page to find the online form. A librarian will answer your enquiry within 10 working days. You can also phone to ask a librarian to complete the form.
– you will need to narrow the search criteria
Step 1 – be specific about the invention, for example, sheep shears that are hand operated or mechanically driven
Step 2 – what d
Step 3 – what geographic location, if any, is relevant (e.g. only need Australian patents) ?
Step 4 – search relevant print and online subject or class indexes to find relevant patents
Step 5 – retrieve patent from relevant collection (print or online)
If you are unsure about a patent number, questions to ask are:
Is the patent number actually recorded on an object? Could the name on the object be the manufacturer's name and not the inventor's name?
Was the product made in Australia or imported from overseas ? Answers to these questions will help you to locate specific patents.
Could the number refer to a registered Industrial Design or a registered Trade Mark, and not in fact to a registered Patent.
Could the Number be a manufacturer's product item code or part number ?
Is the number a product standard number? Standards are published specifications and procedures to ensure quality and safety in manufactured products. For example, Australian Standard AS 5007-2007, "Powered doors for pedestrian access and egress".
Some products may carry a stamp that says "Patent" or "Patent Pending". This does not mean that a patent was actually applied for or granted, as it may have been used to discourage other manufacturers from copying a product.
Patents are usually allocated both an application (provisional) number and, if accepted, a granted (accepted, registered, serial, publication) number.
But for some patents, both the application and the granted number are the same number. These include Colonial State patents, and Australian patents from 1904 to 1935.
In some patent series, the same numbers are repeated in different date cycles.
For example, Australian Patent Application numbers begin with Number 1 every 5 years, except for 1936 to 1940, and these begin with Number 1 each year.
As of Monday 16 March 2020 our Library buildings are closed to the public due to the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Our Ask A Librarian reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.