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Patents and Designs

How to Find Patents Related to a Product

There are hundreds of thousands of patented products on the market, almost all of which are known by a brand name or trademark. However, product names appear rarely in patent documents. The reason for this is because companies tend to file patent applications long before considering the name of a product. Patent offices also discourage the use of product names and trademarks in patent applications.

The title of a patent can have little, if any, connection to the name of a product. For example, below are a few well-known products and their corresponding patents.

  • Claritin® allergy medicine (Antihistaminic fluoro substituted benzocycloheptapyridines, US 4,863,931 A)
  • Koosh® ball (Generally Spherical Object with Floppy Filaments to Promote Sure Capture, US 4,756,529 A)
  • Monopoly® board game (Board Game Apparatus, US 2,026,082 A)
  • Segway® transporter (Personal Mobility Vehicles and Methods, US 6,651,766 B2)
  • Velcro® closure (Velvet Type Fabric and Method of Producing the Same, US 2,717,437 A)

In many cases, companies file for patent protection long before they conceive of a name for their product. Product names may change over time while the patented technology remains the same. A patented technology may be used in dozens of products with different names.

Companies often include patent numbers on products, product packaging and in manuals in order to provide public notice of their patent rights. The next time you buy a product, look closely at the label or packaging to see if any patent numbers are listed.

In recent years, companies have begun listing patents associated with products on their websites. For example, lists the patents owned by Kent Displays that are related to its popular line of Boogie Board® brand electronic writing tablets.

Figure 1. Patent and Design Numbers Printed on a Product Label

Patent numbers printed on a product label

Searching the name of the company that produced the product may be successful in some cases. However, it is farily common for companies to assign their patents to divisions or subsidiary companies with different names. Many companies license patents from other companies, information which may or may not appear on the product or packaging.

Searching the name of the product's inventor, if known, can produce good results.

If you don't know the name of the inventor or company, search the product's name in a trademark database in order to identify the owner. Then search the name of the trademark owner in a patent database. This usually works if the current trademark owner is the original owner of the patent.