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Company Research: Intellectual Property

Company Patents

Patents offer insight into a company’s 

  • innovative culture
  • business opportunties
  • research and development direction
  • market expansion plans. Number of foreign filings might indicate the patent’s importance and identify a company’s target markets.

 Tips for locating company patents

  • The owner of the patent, an individual or entity, will be listed in the assignee or applicant field.
  • Companies or employers are not always the assignees.  Rights can be held by third parties
  • University patents are sometimes filed under their governing board, i.e.  Board of Regents
  • Company names are not uniform, so search for all variations
  • Examine the patent’s abstract, specifications, and claims for information about the invention


Best Patent Databases for Novice Searchers

European Patent Office-ESPACENET

  • Enter company name in Applicant field
  • Applications and granted patents from over 90 countries including the U.S.A.
  • Coverage varies among countries. Some patents go back to 1836
  • ESPACENET Tutorials

U.S. Patent Trademark Office - USPTO

  • Use Quick Search.  Enter company name in Assignee field; i.e. Cisco>
  • Full text patents from 1976 
  • USPTO tutorials