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Searching the USPTO, TIFF images on the web

The US Patent and Trademark Office has facsimiles of the patents they have issued available on the web. The include sufficient meta-data to help inventors find any previously issued patents similar to their idea. (see the USPTO how to). You can pay a lawyer to do patent searching for you or you can do it yourself. Don Costar Helping Inventors is the Nevada resource for new inventors trying to figure out the system.

The USPTO patent image database presents patents in a form that requires a special browser plug-in or application to view. The USPTO provides a page on image viewing instructions for full page images. TIFF is an awkward file format for images on the web. While common for faxes, it has many varieties and some of its compression methods are proprietary, even if specified by the ITU or CCIT. The USPTO also provides its patents one page at a time rather than as a bundled document. This makes downloads and saves cumbersome.

Two sources of free plug-ins that display USPTO patent images are noted on their help page. These are AlternaTIFF and interneTIFF. For Mac users, Quicktime is suggested although, at least on Microsoft Windows machines, Quicktime does not handle the USPTO compression methods. For Linux users, a plugin is used that will call the system utility for displaying fax images.

See Also

Free Patents Online – “allows advanced search techniques such as word stemming, proximity searching relevancy ranking and search term weighing to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Latent semantic searching is also available, and our account features let you organize, annotate and share documents, along with other helpful work-flow features.” RSS available.

Google Patent Search – “part of Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, we’re constantly working to expand the diversity of content we make available to our users. With Google Patent Search, you can now search the full text of the U.S. patent corpus and find patents that interest you.” see the Google Patent Search homepage or the Advanced Patent Search page.

Understanding Search Engine Patents by Christine Churchill, Search Engine Watch. “Search related patents provide insight into what’s going on in search engine algorithms, and search marketers who understand these “rules of ranking” are better positioned to win top position in search results.” RSS available.