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Patent Searching for SEAS Students

Get Started with Patent Searching

The reasons to search for patents are numerous, as are the ways to conduct a good patent search. This guide provides a few examples demonstrating how to search for patents, especially as it relates to prior art searching. 

If you have questions please don't hesitate to contact me!

Quick Links:

Recommended Search Strategy

Granted patents and some patent applications are freely available from a variety of sources. 

Watch this excellent 8 minute video from the University of Michigan.

Key takeaways:

  • Espacenet Advanced Search
  • Keyword searching can get you to a few relevant patents, but searching by classification is a MUST
    • in 2015 the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) replaced the United States Patent Classification (USPC) system
  • Cooperative Patent Classification - hierarchy and description

Recommended Tutorials


Searching Espacenet

Additional Resources

Harvard Resources:


Additional Patent Databases

Derwent Innovations Index 1963 - Present (Thomson Scientific / ISI Web Services) 
Value-added patent information from Derwent World Patent Index® as well as patent citation information from Patents Citation Index