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Searching for pre-1976 U.S. Patents

  • See 7-Step Strategy for Conducting a Patent Search at a PTRC Library
  • For U.S. patents issued between 1969-1975, the Patents Bib CD-ROM, part of the Cassis system, can be searched by inventor name, title and abstract words, patent classification numbers and company names. To locate appropriate patent classification number(s) utilize the following web resources in the following order. The Cassis workstation is in the Fogler Library, Science and Engineering Center, 2nd floor.

    The Patents Bib file only contains the abstract of the patents. The Cassis system can be used in the Science and Engineering Center of Fogler Library. Note or save to the notepad the patent numbers of interest. Then switch to USAPat to retrieve the full-text of each patent by patent number. Printing of the full-text is available at 8 cents a page.

  • For U.S. Patents issued between 1920-present: European Patent Office  Access their database (Esp@cenet) to search U.S., European, Japanese, and World Intellectual Property Organizationpatents. Please note that U.S. patents are searchable by title and inventor back to 1920. This does not provide access to perform comprehensive subject searches. Choose the link to the Worldwide 30 Million Documents.
  • For pre-1969 patents, look up the name of the inventor or title (subject) in the appropriate year of the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents series. Fogler Library owns these print indexes back to 1843, although some years are missing. These indexes are stored in the Patent and Trademark Area of the Science and Engineering Center. Nineteenth-century terminology is used, so be creative when thinking of words to express the subject of interest. You can also search by the patent classification system through the web Patent Full-text database. Refer to the guides for the patent classification system listed above.
  • For patents issued from 1790-1873, a very useful set is Subject-Matter Index of Patents for Inventions Issued by the United States Patent Office from 1790 to 1873, Inclusive. It lists patents by one alphabetical subject listing. It provides the inventor's name, place of residence, date of issue, and patent number. Where there are many inventions under the same subject, it is helpful that the patents are arranged in alphabetical order by the inventor's name. This set is available in the Patent and Trademark Area of Fogler Library's Science and Engineering Center, SciPTDL T223.D7A45 1976. At the end of volume 3 are separate listings for reissues, design patents, extensions, disclaimers, trademarks, and additional improvements.

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents 

Fogler Library owns volumes of the annual report for the following years: 1842-1845, 1847-1871, 1873 (located in the Science & Engineering Center)
1874-1876, 1878 (in Annex, 24 hr. advance notice required for use)
1879 (in Science Center)
1880 (in Annex, 24 hr. advance notice required for use)
1881-present (in Science Center)

Hathi Trust Digital Library − Patent Indexes & Annual Reports from the Commissioner of Patents, 1790-1958 (incomplete). Thanks to the Hathi Trust Digital Library, many of these reports are now available and searchable online.


Return to the Fogler Library Patent and Trademark Resource Center homepage.

For more information, contact: 
Martin Wallace
Science and Engineering Center
Patent and Trademark Depository
Raymond H. Fogler Library
Orono, Maine 04469-5729 
Phone: 207-581-1678


Created by: Martin Wallace | Revised: 02/10/2014

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University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
Phone: 207-581-1661 | Fax: 207-581-1653
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The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
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