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Patents: How to Find an Inventor's Patents


How to Find an Inventor's Patents

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Under patent law, patent applications must disclose the true inventor or inventors. In most countries, including Canada, patents are granted to the first inventor to file an application. In the U.S. patents are awarded to the inventor who was the first to conceive of an invention even if they are not the first to file an application. These two systems are known respectively as "first-to-file" and "first-to-invent."

Michael Lazaridis is the founder and co-CEO of Research in Motion and inventor of the BlackBerry. Mr. Lazaridis has dozens of patents, but you won't find any of them by searching "Michael Lazaridis." Instead, he uses the Greek spelling of his first name, "Mihal," on patent applications.

Try searching both names in the Canadian Patents Database.

Photo credit: RIM

Search Tips

Searching by inventor name is relatively straightforward but remember to consider:

  • Transliterations of western names into non-western languages and then back. For example, "Suzannu Buaajinia Sumisu" translated phonetically in a Japanese patent application actually is Suzanne Virginia Smith.
  • Abbreviations, e.g. Richd. (Richard) and Jos. (Joseph). Abbreviated first names are common on patents from the 19th century.
  • Nicknames, e.g. Bob (Robert), Bert (Elbert), Harry (Harold), etc.
  • Misspelled names (patent offices don't correct misspellings).
  • Non-English spellings, e.g. Mihal or Michel (Michael).
  • Name changes, e.g. Susan Smith, Susan Smith-Jones. etc.
  • Name variations, e.g. Frederic Baur and Fredric Baur; Dean Kamen and Dean L. Kamen, etc.

Last Updated: 22 April 2010