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Acquiring correct assignment data can necessitate more effort than just looking at the assignment field in your favorite patent search system or on the face of the patent in question. If you choose either of these paths, just like peering through a telescope at the night sky, you could be seeing “yesterday’s news.”
There are several avenues of inquiry suggested to find out what your assignment searches might be missing, so let’s talk about one specific way to improve them today–searching USPTO Assignments on the Web.
USPTO Assignments on the Web is a free patent assignment information tool through the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website. This tool has assignment data from August 1980 through the present, and users can query several fields of information. Read on to find out how to access assignment information using this site and how it can help your patent search!
The Assignments on the Web interface is very straightforward and no frills, similar to the USPTO Website patent search system. Several search fields are accommodated, including the ability to search for assignee or assignor information.
As mentioned in the Intellogist Best Practices Article on Assignment Searching (which you can contribute to as a registered user on Intellogist), patent re-assignment searching is an important investigative step. For example, searchers can do this in order to make sure that a landscape study on the patent holdings of a company is accurate.
USPTO Assignments on the Web displays hundreds of results for assignee/assignor searches easily, but that’s not to say it’s the ultimate solution. It’s always best to consult multiple sources of assignment data, including standardized assignee data that can catch spelling variations or even automatically incorporate corporate hierarchies.
The individual records (which can be searched or viewed by Reel/Frame Number, an organizing group for a batch of reassignments) have hyperlinked information allowing easy browsing between different patents in a batch. Assignee/assignor searches can also be generated from hyperlinks within the interface. The “conveyance text” portion of a record can be of special importance: This section indicates the type of reassignment, which can include an “Assignment of Assignor’s Interest,” “Name Change,” or “Security Agreement.”
In conclusion, it can never hurt to have a free source of assignment information, especially when the source is literally the source: the USPTO. While the update schedule is not known, it can be reasonably assumed that this is one of the best and most current sources of assignment and reassignment information for US patent documents. When you need to cross your t’s and dot your i’s on a landscape or assignee survey study, it pays to make sure that the key patent wasn’t assigned away as part of a recent security agreement!
This post was edited by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla.