I would like to search for the previous or alternate names that a US-based company uses or has used in the past. Where would I find the name history of a company? I would like to perform this search on lots of different companies. Manually searching through SEC documents would be unfeasible.

An example: I want to find out if IBM had a previous/alternate name; I should be able to retrieve that is also goes/went by International Business Machines.

The end goal is to use this data to find all the patents assigned to a company.

  • Don't forget about the IBM Patent Corp. What about companies that have different names that are also owned by IBM. For example if I didn't know that Alphabet owned Google, and Googles Patents are Assigned to Alphabet, I would not be able to make the connection. Sep 19, 2017 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


This is the kind of thing that commercial IP databases do well. The assignment information is available from the various national patent offices. The commercial concerns cross reference all of the assignments with data from state/national corporate registration databases to ensure that these are all found. The process is, I expect, rather intensive and so while the information does exist, it can only be accessed by paying the service that generated the data.

  • 1
    What are some examples of such an IP database?
    – zmike
    Sep 19, 2017 at 19:13
  • What kind of pricing do these commercial IP databases go for? Sep 19, 2017 at 19:50
  • There are many databases that one could use. I have used Software For Intellectual Property GmbH. Their cost is probably between $5k-$10k per year, but frankly I think of them mostly as a data company as their GUI was changed in a way that I found to be a bit difficult to use. I am currently using PatSnap and they are quite good. The cost for two seats is about $20k.
    – C J
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:10

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