JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Searching for documents - Patent Applications #general

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Jan R. Fine has asked about obtaining and using patent applications in
genealogical research. The Library of Congress has The Annual report of
the Commissioner of Patents for the year ... for the years 1840 onward.

Many other libraries hold the series. Check for a library
near you.

The publication ceased in 1965. The series can be searched at
See "Two Useful Newspaper Search Web Sites for Genealogists," Rodziny:
Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America, Vol. 34, No. 3,
Summer 2011, pp. 17-20. [CS49.P64]. Reprinted in Gen Dobry!, November 2011
issue, pp. 7-12, at
[MOD. NOTE: or shortened URL - ]

European countries also publish their patent reports in the local language.

The original patent term under the 1790 Patent Act was decided individually
for each patent, but "not exceeding fourteen years." The 1836 Patent Act
(5 Stat. 117, 119, 5) provided (in addition to the fourteen year term) an
extension "for the term of seven years >from and after the expiration of the
first term" in certain circumstances. In 1861 the seven year extension was
eliminated and the term changed to seventeen years (12 Stat. 246, 249, 16).

The signing of the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act then changed the
patent term >from seventeen years >from the date of issue to the current
twenty years >from the earliest filing date.

Patent applications contain very little basic genealogical information but
often reveal related persons and sometimes reveal related patents which
might reveal associates. They also reveal areas of interest to the person

Edward David Luft
Washington, DC

Jan Fine <> wrote:
Can anyone shed light on patent applications - specifically, are there
searchable records, how far back do these records go, and how long is the
period under which a patent is protected? Does it make sense to anyone else
that a patent application might actually be beneficial to someone doing
family genealogy?

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