A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the U.S. Government to an inventor “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 when the patent is granted."
- Patents are defined by U.S. law, Title 35 of the U.S. Code.
- There are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant.
- Patents are examined and issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- The America Invents Act was signed in to law on September 16, 2011, changing several aspects of patent law.
Patents are an important part of many academic disciplines. As federal documents and intellectual property, they are a key source of technical information, but are found only occasionally in traditional literature searches and must be searched separately using U.S. Classifications -- keyword searching will result in a limited data set.
Patents can be searched for new areas of research, for ideas to improve existing research, or to see if a product has already been developed.
“A patent document has much more detailed information about a [given] technology than any other type of scientific or technical publication. It is also a unique source of information; on average, seventy percent of the information disclosed in patents is never published anywhere else.
The Magic of Patent Information, World Intellectual Property Organization, http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/documents/patent_information.htm.