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Entrepreneurship Resources: Patents

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2024 12:13 PM

General Patent Information

Patents are a rich source of scientific and technical information. The time-consuming task of searching for patents has been streamlined by the availability of Web-based patent search and retrieval systems. Use the Patent Databases information below to learn about the various databases available. See the Patent Search Strategy and Tutorial Videos boxes below for additional help.

UB library staff are not able to provide any legal advice. This guide is purely for helping you learn about and search for patents. If you need legal assistance, please consult a licensed attorney. See the Library Guide on UB and SUNY Patent Resources for more information on resources available to current students, faculty, and staff.

Patents for Entrepreneurs Infographic

Patents for Entrepreneurs Infographic

Getting Started

What is a Patent: the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

  •     Usually, a 20 year exclusive right to the patent within the country the patent was issued.
  •     The exclusive rights to exclude others from making, selling, or importing the invention.
  •     A patent is only valid in the country it was issued.

Three Types of Patents:

  • Utility patents: granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Also known as 'patents for invention". Lasts 20 years and represents 90% of applications. 
  • Design patents: granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Only protects the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features. Lasts for 14 years. 
  • Plant patents: granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. Lasts 20 years. 

What is Patentable - Criteria: 

  • Novel - unique and new, never made public, before the date of the filed application
  • Useful - identifiable benefit 
  • Non-obvious - to someone working within that field 


Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (2014 Oct). General information concerning patents. Retrieved from

Patent Databases

The below patent databases are all freely accessible resources, meaning you do not have to be affiliated with UB to access them. Espacenet and Google Patents offer the widest coverage and are the most user-friendly tools for patents searching. 

Search Strategy


Brainstorm keywords related to the purpose, use and composition of the invention.

Look up the words in the Index to the U.S. Patent Classification to find potential class/subclasses.

Verify the relevancy of the class/subclasses by using the Classification Schedule in the Manual of Classification.

Read the Classification Definitions to verify the scope of the subclasses and note "see also" references.

Access Full-Text 

Search the Issued Patents and the Published Applications databases by clicking here. You can search by keyword, inventor/assignee name, or classification. 

Review and References 

Review the claims, specifications and drawings of documents retrieved for relevancy.

Check all references and note the "U.S. Cl." and "Field of Search" areas for additional class/subclasses to search.

More information on A Seven Step Search Strategy with Detailed Examples - prepared by the USPTO.

How to Conduct a Patent Search

Special thanks to the University of Central Florida Libraries for creating such a wonderful tutorial!

More Patents Information

For more information on patents, please refer to the main Research Guide on Patents using the link below. 

Engineering Librarian

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Erin Rowley
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