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Finding Patents: Research Guide

This guide provides an overview on locating various types of patents

Search Strategy & Guidance

Tips on locating patents (when you don't have the patent number)

  • Make a plan: This is a lengthy process, so be prepared. You may want to create a spreadsheet and have paper/pens on hand. 
  • Search terms: Write down words associated to it's Purpose, Application, Structure, Fabrication, Use, and Audience. 
  • Synonyms: Write down any and all Technical terms and keywords associated with the invention or patent  The more synonyms and related terms you have the more exhaustive your search. Look at an encyclopedia or handbook for related terminology and jargon
  • Outdated terms: Think of terms that may no longer be relevant or are outdated but which may be useful in your search (e.g., Laser disc, hi-fi, cold box, water closet)
  • CPC Scheme: Identify and keep track of the various CPC and if necessary the UPTO and IPC codes used. Identify all potential relevant codes. 
  • Review: Review the front page of the retrieved patent, pay particular attention to the classification, abstract, and drawings.  Then review specifications and claims of potentially relevant results. 
  • Systematic: Be systematic, keep track of your search terms and strategies

Additional guidance: 

Codes & Schemes

The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) effort is a joint partnership between the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) where the Offices have agreed to harmonize their existing classification systems (European Classification (ECLA) and United States Patent Classification (USPC) respectively) and migrate towards a common classification scheme.

View the CPC Scheme HERE

The International Patent Classification (IPC), International, common, and uniform classification of patent documents. Can be searched in English and French. 

View the IPC Scheme HERE

The United States Patent Classification (USPC) System is a system for organizing all U.S. patent documents and many other technical documents into relatively small collections based on common subject matter.

New classification to the USPC was frozen as it merged and became the CPC. 

View the USPC System HERE

Patent Status and Ownership

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.