Withdrawn Patents

Patents get withdrawn from time to time. Some are never issued but some are withdrawn after being issued. In the latter case, data for the withdrawn patent can be found in the wild. The patent office maintains a list of withdrawn patents at http://www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/patent-search/withdrawn-patent-number Separately, the patentsview api team processes the bulk grant patent xml files and makes their files available for download. If one compares the patentsview patent.tsv file to the patent office’s withdrawn patent list, one finds (or found at the time this was written) 7,930 patents in both files. The patent office removes withdrawn patents from its web site, they are not returned by searches but this is not the case with the patentsview api. It will return withdrawn patents, which is pretty bizarre. I don’t know of another patent platform that does that. I raised a git issue to point this out to the otherwise fine patentsview folks but nothing has changed. (Two take-aways here, one that there is data for withdrawn patents in the grant xml files and the other is that patentsview loads them into their database.)

Another source of data for withdrawn patents is the USPat dvds once produced by the patent office. The data is available for download as thousands of zip files containing tiff images of patents, both withdrawn ones and ones that were not withdrawn. In the zip files I have analyzed, I have found 5,191 withdrawn patents among the millions of patents that have not been withdrawn.

The last source that I know of for data on withdrawn patents is the Official Gazettes (OGs) produced by the patent office each week. Some patents appear in the OGS that are subsequently withdrawn. An example would be PP31,892 which would have been issued on June 23, 2020. That patent wasn’t in the grant xml for the patents granted on June 23, 2020 but it did appear the OG for that date. It is also listed on the patent office’s withdrawn patent page. Interestingly, PP31,893 was also withdrawn but it is not present in xml file for June 23, 2020 and the OG says “Patent Not Issued For This Number”. Above is an image that shows the OG entries for these two withdrawn patents.

A possible source, that I haven’t fully investigated, is Hathi Trust. They have scanned many of the OGs that were physically published. The last printed OG was September 24, 2002, more recent ones are only published electronically.

So if you are interested in withdrawn patents, they are out there! (That is, there may be xml data, tiffs and/or OG html and images available.) Oh, and another trick to finding which patents are withdrawn is to do a search in patft for ccl/WITHDRAWN, slightly nonsensical syntax but it works!

NYPL/UMD Plant Patent Project

One of the more surprising elements of plant patents is that their online images are in black and white! Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRC) scattered across the US receive color copies of them but the online community is left guessing what each patented plant looks like in color. A few years ago, Ken Johnson at the PTRC in New York City’s Public Library (NYPL) began scanning the color copies they received. He put them online with the giant caveat that they cannot be used for legal purposes, only the official color copies can be used legally. One of the libraries at the University of Maryland (UMD) is also a PTRC and they have taken up scanning plant patents not scanned by the New York Public Library. So, if you are wondering what a particular plant patent looks like in color, head over to https://www.lib.umd.edu/plantpatents or http://www.nypl.org/collections/nypl-recommendations/guides/plant-patents-2012 Not all of the nearly 33,000 plant patents have been scanned, but they are working on it. Be sure to check out the UMD project’s credits page, I might be mentioned on it. Oh, and if you are curious what the rose plant above looks like, unofficially of course, it’s here.


DATAMP = Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents

If you are looking for the patent associated with an antique tool, head over to datamp.org. It’s quite possible you’ll be able to find the tool patent you are looking for among the 70,000 or so patents there. I’m a developer of the site and one of the data stewards that enters patent data so I highly recommend the site!

Here’s the most recent patent that was entered into datamp:

  • US Patent: 14,986US Patent: 14,986
    Ship's capstan Patentees: Daniel Tallcot - Oswego NY , George Tallcot - Oswego NY Granted:1856-05-27 Manufactured by George Tallcot - Oswego NY This is one of 71,935 patents currently in the database at datamp.org

When apis fail you

Sometimes there isn’t a way other than screen scraping to get the data you want, which is unfortunate. I’d like to programmatically retrieve classification fields for the plant patents issued each Tuesday. I can’t use the patentsview api since its data lags behind, it’s updated roughly quarterly while the patent office’s site is updated each Tuesday. Plus the api does not return uspc classifications on newer plant patents as the patent offices has stopped producing the bulk file of them (the last file produced stopped with PP29260, issued April 24, 2018). The api also does not return cpcs that are now coming back on about half of the plant patents, as there is no bulk source of them (the bulk cpc file only contains utility patents, fans of reissued patents are also out of luck). See this page if you don’t believe me that some plant patents do get cpc assignments!

Similarly, I could use try to use the PEDS (Patent Examination Data System) api but only returns one uspc classification per patent when multiples are allowed1 and it also does not return cpcs. So, having no other free option, you can’t blame a guy if he makes requests weekly to patft and scrapes the page of data that is returned!

1If you want to check for yourself, these plant patents each had 4 uspc assignments when I scrapped them PP23484, PP23723, PP23924, PP24080, PP24201, PP24521, PP24634, PP24828. Compare peds and patentsview to patft to see the disparity.