Tips for Assignee Search

It is often easy to enlist major players which hold a significant patent portfolio in an industry. Sometimes one may want to analyze patent portfolio of a particular company. Further, sometimes one may wish to know of a product which employs a certain technology and he/she needs to find the corresponding patent for that technology. In such cases, an assignee search could come handy.

Before beginning an assignee search, it is  very important to research about the company to identify name changes, ownership and subsidiary relationship with its parent holding, etc. This information can be retrieved from the company’s website, or general Google search. Sometimes, more specialized business database may be needed that contain company listings and information.

Some points to consider while performing an assignee search:

  • If you are looking for an individual as an assignee, consider all variant forms of the inventor’s name.
  • If you are looking for an organization as an assignee, consider name variations of its different subsidiaries.
  • One should also consider all possible translations and transliterations of the names and/or terms involved.
  • If the company has changed names, you should search under all the names even beyond the date of the name change. Sometimes, patents filed before the name change are issued later and may contain the previous company name as the assignee.
  • Sometimes the name of the company will be in the “representative,” “agent,” or “correspondent” field of the patent. You shall include these fields in your search.

For some countries, you may need to check national patent office’s legal status register to search for assignee name.

Some of the strategies that may be employed to simplify assignee search are:

  • Use a database (generally paid, like Thomson Innovation) which normalize all name variants of the assignee name in your search string. Some databases even use automation tools to standardize assignee names. It may be a good idea to use such tools for crucial search projects.
  • Familiarize yourself with indexing methodology of the database that you may use, as each database indexes are not created with a similar scheme. Accordingly, modify your search string.

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