In a previous post I discussed Google Patents and discovering one entered by my husband's great-great grandfather, Martin Steffy. After further research yet another patent was located for a distant ancestor. The "new" and "useful" floodgate was filed by a distant cousin named Steven G. Hindsley. How exciting finding another treasure to add to our families history!
This also, explains our son's desire to "tinker" with everything in sight. Looks like he came by the "inventors curiosity" honestly.
Here is how Google Patents describes their site :
All patents available through Google Patent Search come from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patents issued in the United States are public domain government information, and images of the entire database of U.S. patents are readily available online via the USPTO website.
Google Patent Search covers the entire collection of issued patents and millions of patent application made available by the USPTO'from patents issued in the 1790s through those most recently issued in the past few months. We don't currently include international patents, but we look forward to expanding our coverage in the future.
To date, the USPTO has made available approximately 7 million patents and over a million patent applications.
A great place to start is Google Patent Search Help. There you will find an overview about the site.
Good luck finding patents for your ancestors!