An assignee search is a patent database search for all patent documents (i.e., patents and pre-grant publications) owned by a particular entity. The patent databases that are searched are typically the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the patent databases of specific countries.
What is an assignee and assignor?
An assignee is the person or business receiving ownership of the patent rights. The inventor(s) that assigns the invention rights to the person or business is the assignor.
What is the purpose of an assignee search?
The assignee search aims to locate patent documents you might be infringing on. For example, if you’ve been building a product and find a similar product that’s patented, you need to find the patent. Once found, you can analyze the breadth of the patent to determine if you are infringing on the claims of the patent. If so, you need to figure out a design around to avoid patent infringement or give up on your project.
How to conduct an assignee search?
To conduct the assignee search, go to the relevant websites and conduct searches for the legal entity of the product. Typically, you won’t know the correct legal name of the entity. To find the legal name of the entity that owns the product, see below.
To search the database at the USPTO, use the Patent Public Search webpage.
To search the database at the EPO, use the Espacenet webpage.
How to find the legal name of the entity?
Companies may hold their intellectual property in their public name. For example, Google owns its patents in the name of “GOOGLE INC.” However, sometimes they don’t. For instance, IBM holds its patents in the name of IBM or International Business Machine Corporation. It would be best if you found the correct term to search for. Otherwise, you will not find the right patents.
A way to find the entity’s legal name is to look for the legal name of the trademark owner. For example, suppose the product is XYZ, and it’s registered. In that case, you can look up the trademark in the trademark database of the USPTO. From there, you can find the legal owner of the trademark. Typically, the legal owner of the trademark will be the same name in which the patent is held.