Morris County Library > Reference > Patents


About Patents

Most of the research tools you need are readily available from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) web site. Or, in person, our closest patent research facility, Newark Public Library.

First steps
Books to look at: Patent It Yourself (Pressman) and Patent Drawing Book, by Lo.
Web: the USPTO offers General Information Concerning Patents including answers to frequently asked questions. (See their how-to page.)

Caution! If you are an inventor keyword searching is NOT the best way to determine whether your invention is already patented. You will need to consult the patent classification manuals.

  1. USPTO patent database contains information on patents issued January 1, 1976 to present. Search results will contain the patent number, inventor, title, date filed, abstract describing the invention and full-text of the patent. Patents issued between 1790 and 1976 are searchable only by patent number and current U.S. classification.
  2. Google patents
  3. The Delphion Intellectual Property Network (formerly IBM's Patent Server) database begins in 1971 and can be searched by keyword, patent number, inventor or assignee. Patent summaries and lists of claims are provided; full-text copies may be purchased from the web site.
  4. WIPO, World Intellectual Property Organization for international patents, 1978+

Done before?
The US Patent and Trademark Office organizes things into classes and subclasses. You need to find out where your invention falls in their system. Check patents similar to your invention to see where they were classified.
Now that you know the class and subclass for your idea, you can run it through the USPTO database. If you want to search earlier dates, you can visit a patent depository library and run a CASSIS (Classification and Search Support Information System) search. In northern New Jersey, visit Newark Public Library. If you are a local patron, we can request a CASSIS search on your behalf from NPL; turnaround time is about a week.

See a patent
If the patent was granted after January 1, 1976 you can view and print full-text copies from the USTPO's web site. Checker older patents on Google. If you'd like a full, official copy, either order it from the USPTO. or call us to request a copy from Newark Public Library.

Apply for a patent
Books: Inventing and Patenting Sourcebook explains the pros and cons of the do-it-yourself approach and includes a directory of registered patent attorneys and agents, by state. Patent It Yourself is also helpful.
Online: All current USPTO applications and forms and attorneys registered to practice before the USPTOare listed on the Web.
In New Jersey, see the New Jersey Lawyers Diary and Manual under the section "Attorneys according to areas of practice". The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory lists lawyers by specialty and location. You could also try a search by type of practice in the Wests Lawyers Directory.

Foreign patents
Inventing and Patenting Sourcebook discusses getting patent protection outside of the United States. The US PTO web site also lists links to offices in many countries, including the Japanese Patent Office, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and the European Patent Register. Derwent Scientific provides foreign patent information, but not all of it is free of charge. See also WIPO.

Marketing and licensing books
Patent It Yourself has an extensive discussion of marketing your own invention.
Inventing and Patenting Sourcebook has a directory of invention consultants and research firms.
Licensing Your Invention provides guidance for inventors who want to allow other parties to use or sell their inventions for a limited period of time.

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© Morris County Library, 1996
17 July 2014