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Patents: Patents

Research Guide Description

Welcome to the patents research guide!  This guide is intended as an introduction to patents e.g. what are patents, search techniques for patents, and where to search for patent literature.

What is a patent?

Oxford Dictionary defines a patent as "a government authority or license conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention."  The Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) adds an additional restriction in that others cannot import the invention.  The USPTO delineates between the three different types of patents:

  • Utility patent: ". . . a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new useful improvement"
  • Design patent: ". . . a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture"
  • Plant patent:  " . . . an invented or discovered and asexually reproduced distinct and new variety of plant"

What search techniques should I use to find a patent?

Whether you are trying to find a specific patent, reviewing patent applications for possible ideas, or conducting a exhaustive prior art search, utilize a combination of three different search strategies:

  • Text searching
  • Patent classification search
  • Patent citation searching

The websites below help to identify the relevant classification codes using the Cooperative Patent Classification:

Where can I search for a patent?

The library subscribes to Innovation Q Plus to search patents worldwide.  You can also use Innovation Q Plus to search non-patent literature.  Innovation Q Plus utilizes IP authentification and only allows 10 simultaneous users.  To access Innovation Q Plus off-campus, download and connect to VPN.

Using Innovation Q Plus

Engineering and Science Librarian

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Denice Lewis
ZSR Library, Room 457B