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Patents for Inventions

Last modified: June 26, 2015

Patents - Invention Search

Please Note

While we will gladly assist you with your search, we cannot perform searches or dispense legal information!

7 Steps of an Invention Search:


Identify the key concepts of your invention.


Remember inventions are classified by how they work, rather than their intended use.


Find the class/subclass numbers that best describe your invention by using the Index to U.S. Patent Classifications.


All patents are arranged by class/subclass and this will allow you to view all patents that work in a similar fashion.


View the definitions for the class/subclass you have identified using the Manual of Classification. (Type your class/subclass, select Class Definition then Submit).


This will help you find related classes and subclasses and determine cross-referenced or incorrect classifications.


Look at the abstract and bibliographic information for the patents in the classifications you have identified.


Use this to determine if you've chosen an appropriate classification. Make note of the patent numbers for inventions that are similar to your idea.


Review the complete text and drawings of the related patents and published applications to determine differences between your invention and those that already exist.


Search the Official Gazette and Patent Full-Text Database to ensure no recently posted applications match your invention.


Consider filing a patent application if you haven't found a patent that's the same as your invention.

Content adapted from 7-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy (USPTO).


Last modified: June 25, 2015

Patents - What is a Patent?

Please Note

While we will gladly assist you with your search, we cannot perform searches or dispense legal information!

What is a Patent?

A patent is a right of ownership granted to a person by the government to exclude others from making or selling the claimed invention for a period of twenty years. There are three main types of patents:

  • Utility - granted for the function of something that is mechanical, electrical, chemical, compositional, or any combination of these.
  • Design - granted solely on the look or appearance of something.
  • Plant - granted for unique, asexually reproduced plants.

Examples of things that may be patented:

Examples of things that may NOT be patented


Manufactured Products

Composition of matter (e.g. pharmaceuticals)

Processes (mechanical or practical, but not thought)


Asexually reproduced plants


Mathematical Functions

Laws of nature

Scientific Principle

Last modified: March 5, 2012

Patents - International Patents

Please Note

While we will gladly assist you with your search, we cannot perform searches or dispense legal information!

Search for Patents Internationally

Worldwide   |   North America   |   Europe

Asia   |   Australia

Worldwide Sites

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

STN International
Provides global access to published research, journal literature, patents, structures, sequences, properties, and other data.

British Library - Help for Researchers - Patents
Comprehensive range of web pages on patents, trademarks, and designs; covers intellectual property documentation worldwide.


China, State Intellectual Property Office of the P.R.C. (SIPO)

Japan Patent Office

East Asian Patent Information by EPO


IP Australia

The federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trademarks and designs.


European Patent Office (EPO)

The official site for member states of the EPO. Provides searching and viewing of issued patents and published patent applications. European patents may be published in French, German or English. (Claims are published in all three languages.)

EPO - Espacenet

More than 70 million patent documents worldwide, containing information about inventions and developments from 1836 to today.

EPO - European Patent Register
All publicly available information on European patent applications as they pass through the grant procedure, including oppositions, patent attorney/EPO correspondence, and more.

North America

Canadian Intellectual Property Office - Patents Database

This searchable database contains full text of patents issued or publicly-registered after August 15, 1978. It also contains images and brief details for patents from 1920-present and abstracts from 1978-present. The free database of Canadian patents and laid-open patent applications has been made available by Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)


Last modified: March 28, 2016

Patents - U.S. Patents

Please Note

While we will gladly assist you with your search, we cannot perform searches or dispense legal information!

Issued U.S. Patents

The specification and accompanying drawings of all patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are available online. New patents are issued and published online every Tuesday.

PatFT - Patent Full-Text and Full-Page Image Databases


Full-page TIFF image (searching only available by patent number, issue date and class/subclass)


Full-text searching of html version of patent (full-page TIFF image with any accompanying images also available)

USPTO Patent Full-Text Database records containing only the patent number and the word "withdrawn" have been added for all withdrawn patent numbers. No further information is available from the USPTO website for these patents. Changes to patent documents contained in Certificates of Correction and Re-examinations Certificates are not included in the searchable full text of the patent databases, but are available as additional full-page images at the end of each patent's linked full-page images.

Published Applications (Disclosure Document)

Patent applications are generally published 18 months after the earliest priority date of the application. Patent applications are published online every Thursday.

A Disclosure Document is not a patent application, and the date of its receipt in the USPTO will not become the effective filing date of any patent application subsequently filed. A Disclosure Document will be retained for two years, and then be destroyed unless it is referred to in a separate letter in a related patent application filed within those two years.

AppFT - Patent Application Full-Text And Image Database

March 15, 2001 - present

Full-text searching of published patent applications with any accompanying images or diagrams


Viewing Patent Full-Page Images (TIFF Files)

TIFF image Viewers for Patent Images is required to view the scanned, full-page images for each patent in the database. All computers in the UA Main and Science Libraries have this software installed. For information on PDF conversion services for patents, check under the Further Research section.

USPTO Websites

U.S. Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO)

Index to the U.S. Patent Classification (USPC) System

Classification Main Menu
Numerical listing of the patent classification schema. It gives the classification definitions and shows interrelationships between classes.

Official Gazette for Patents (USPTO)
The Official Gazette for Patents allows you to browse through the issued patents for the week. It can be browsed by classification or type of patent, for example by utility, design, and plant. Specific patents can be accessed by class/subclass or patentee name. The USPTO website hosts only the most recent 52 weeks of the Official Gazette for Patents. Older issues are maintained by Reed Tech IP Services.

Micro- film 4444 Science Microforms v.1-v.1254 no.1262 (1872-Jan.-Sept. 2002)


Patent Search Web Resources

A quick guide to patent research (University of Michigan) 

7-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy Guide [PDF] (Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program)

How to Conduct a Preliminary U.S. Patent Search video (USPTO)

Patents (University of Central Florida Libraries)

Google Patent
Google Patent Search covers the entire collection of patents made available by the USPTO from patents issued in the 1790s through present. Search patent number works better than full-text search. Note that Google Patents Search does not include patent applications or international patents. Advanced patent searching is still going to require using the USPTO database and other resources for more precise patent searching.


Last modified: September 21, 2017

Patents - Further Research

Please Note

While we will gladly assist you with your search, we cannot perform searches or dispense legal information!  

Further Research


PDF Conversion

There are many services offering free or fee-based conversion of patent documents into PDF files. This is a small selection of options.

U.S. patents; TIFF or PDF format; advanced search capabilities; free

U.S. patents; PDF format; free

Library Research Data

The Lens
Formerly called Patent Lens, this site includes a number of different datasets.

LexisNexis Academic Guide
Includes general topic news, as well as company, industry, market, government, and political news. Coverage also includes: country and state profiles, law reviews, federal case law, medical and health topics, and accounting, auditing and tax information, company profiles, and financials (public and private).

Ei Compendex
Citations and abstracts to articles from over 5,000 journals, conference proceedings, and technical reports. EI Compendex provides comprehensive interdisciplinary coverage of all major areas of engineering, applied science, and technology.

Science Citation Index (included in Web of Science)
Index to core journal articles and cited references in science and technology. Includes some abstracts. Science Citation Index (SCI) Expanded is part of the Web of Science database collection. It indexes over 6,650 major journals across 150 scientific disciplines in science, medicine and technology from 1900 to the present. To search only in Science Citation Index, select the Change Limits and Settings link in the lower half of the search page and deselect the Social Sciences Citation Index and the Arts & Humanities Citation Index.

SciFinder is a database that provides access to the following:

  • Chemical Abstracts - Over 15 million abstracts of chemistry-related journal articles, patents, conference proceedings, dissertations, and technical reports.
  • CASREACT - Information on synthetic organic research, including organometallics, natural products, and biocatalyzed reactions.
  • CAS Registry - A database of more than 22 million chemical substances.
  • CHEMCATS - Commercially available chemicals from more than 400 suppliers.
  • CHEMLIST - Key domestic and international regulatory information.
  • MEDLINE - Medline is the National Library of Medicine's premier bibliographic database of international biomedical literature, providing comprehensive information on every aspect of medicine, biomedical research and health care.

With SciFinder, you can find literature relevant to a topic of interest or written by a specific author. You can also explore chemical substances by chemical name, chemical structure and substructure, chemical reactions, formulas, or CAS Registry Numbers.

Note: SciFinder is only available to University of Arizona affiliates with a valid UA NetID. Registration with SciFinder is required to use it. For more information, see the SciFinder page from Chemical Abstracts Service.

Materials Research Database
All aspects of materials science are provided in this collection of databases, which includes Advanced Polymers Abstracts, Aluminium Industry Abstracts, Ceramic Abstracts/World Ceramics Abstracts, Composites Industry Abstracts, Copper Data Center Database, Corrosion Abstracts, Engineered Materials Abstracts, Materials Business File, METADEX, and WELDASEARCH.

Contents include international literature on ferrous and non-ferrous metals, polymers, ceramics, plastics and composite materials, plus practices and commercial developments in materials science.

World literature of physics, astronomy and astrophysics, optics and optoelectronics, electrical engineering, electronics, computers, and computing technology.


Library Books

How to Make Patent Drawings: A "Patent It Yourself Companion" (ebook)

The Inventor's Notebook : A "Patent It Yourself" Companion

Nolo's Patents for Beginners


Patent it Yourself, 15th ed., 2011

Patent It Yourself, 12th ed., 2006 (ebook)

Patent it Yourself, 8th ed., 2000

Dictionaries & Glossaries

Glossary of Terms (USPTO)

Glossary of Thomson Scientific Terminology

Glossary of Patent Terminology
by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Patent Glossary
by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society


USPTO Web Sites

U.S. Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO)




Filing a Patent Application

Tutorial, EFS-Web "Sandbox" - Try Before You File (USPTO)



Looking for a Patent Attorney

USPTO Patent Attorney / Agent Search

Contains contact information for attorneys and agents with licenses to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Pima County Bar Association

State Bar of Arizona


Other Web Resources

America's Inventor Online Magazine

American Patent and Trademark Law Center

BitLaw: A Resource on Technology Law  

Invention Dimension

Inventors Association of Arizona (IAA)

National Congress of Inventor Organizations (NCIO)

National Inventors - Hall of Fame

Nolo Patent, Copyright & Trademark Center

Patent Information Users Group

Patent Law Links

Patent Page for Kids (USPTO)

The Patent Room
Focused on early design and illustration, the site features patent drawings of the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

United Inventors Association

Univeristy of Maine Library: Patent and Trademark

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)


Humorous Patent Sites

Gallery of Obscure Patents

Wacky Patent of the Month

Weird and Wonderful Patents


Last modified: September 21, 2017