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Patents and Designs

How to Find an Inventor's Patents

The person who conceives an invention is known as the inventor. When two or more people contribute in significant ways to an invention they are known as joint inventors. Patent applications must disclose the true inventor or inventors. Anyone can be an inventor. One of the youngest inventors on record is Samuel Thomas Houghton of the UK who applied for a patent at the age of three with the help of his father, who is a patent attorney. Companies and organizations can not be inventors.

Searching by inventor name is relatively straightforward, but remember to consider the following.

Nicknames and Initials

Some inventors prefer to use their nicknames or initials on patent applications. For example,

  • Burt Rutan (Elbert Rutan)
  • Harry Steenbock (Harold Steenbock)
  • Steve Jobs (Steven Jobs)
  • K. R. Sridhar (K. R. Sridhar)
  • "Woody" Blackford (Michael E. Blackford)

Misspelled Names

Misspelled names are not unusual. For example,

  • Stephen Jobs (Steven Jobs)
  • Kia Sliverbrook, Kia Silverbook (Kia Silverbrook)

Name Changes

Marriage and divorce often lead to name changes. For example, Susan Smith may become Susan Jones or Susan Smith-Jones.

Translated Names

Michael Lazaridis, inventor of the BlackBerry smartphone and co-founder of Research in Motion, is listed as an inventor on nearly 1,000 patent documents. However, you won't find them unless you search for "Mihal" Lazaridis.


For example, Helmut Möhwald can appear as:

  • Helmut Möhwald
  • Helmut Moehwald
  • Helmut Mowald
  • Helmuth Mohwald


Abbreviated first names, e.g. Richd. (Richard) and Jos. (Joseph), are common on patents from the 19th century.