- Copyright - United States Copyright Office, Library of Congress
- Patents and trademarks - United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Commerce
- Trade secret - an alternative option to patents, examples include: Google search algorithm, the formula to Coca-Cola, and WD-40.
Definition of a Patent
A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the United States government to an inventor or owner “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.
- U.S. Constitution - Article I Section 8 | Clause 8 – Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. [The Congress shall have power] “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
|Learn more about the type of patents, what is patentable and what can't be patented.|
Why look at Patents?
There are many reasons to do a patent search and finding unique technical information is one of the ways that might be most helpful for this class.
- ~70-90% of technical information can only be found in patents
- see how others have tackled a particular design problem
- explore state-of-the-art technology
|Additional reasons to do a patent search.|
|Why search for patents? MIT Libraries (5-minute video)|
- Most patents are written in legal and highly technical language
- The claims are written by lawyers for lawyers
- The claims are the most important part of the patent as far a providing the legal protection if challenged in court
- The Abstract, Summary, Background sections are more straightforward
- Product names are often created after a patent is written (sometimes by the marketing department rather than the inventor e.g. Post-it Note)
- Keyword searching is not sufficient when doing a comprehensive patent prior art search
- You should be familiar with using the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system
|How to read a patent|
Searching by Classification
Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC)
In 2015 the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) replaced the United States Patent Classification (USPC) system.
- Cooperative Patent Classification- hierarchy and description
- CPC scheme and CPC definitions
- CPC Training - The EPO and the USPTO have jointly prepared CPC training material to support users in their learning process of the CPC classification system.
- How to do a patent search - UCF Libraries
- Patent Searching Tutorial using Espacenet - great 8-minute video tutorial from the University of Michigan Library
- Google Patents - is a good place to start (Note: Google Patents doesn't provide complete coverage compared to the USPTO or Espacenet)
- Espacenet - The European Patent Office; provides access to more than 100 million patents including more than 10 million U.S. patents