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Research Guides

Patents and Trademarks

How to find a patent

The easiest search is when you already have a number for an existing patent.  Some resources you may use are:

Although keyword searching is not the best way to find all patents related to one's idea (that would be classification searching), one can still benefit from a keyword search, using the following resources:

To perform a search for all related patents within a specific category, the following 7-step strategy is recommended by the USPTO:

  1. Brainstorm terms to describe your invention.
  2. Access and review CPC classification schema using USPTO's website site search.  Type "CPC", "scheme", and a keyword for your classification.
  3. Access and review CPC classification definitions linked to CPC classifications in a scheme.
  4. Retrieve and review issued patents using the CPC classification(s) identified.
  5. Conduct in-depth review of those patents you selected based on front-page information.
  6. Retrieve and review published patent applications using the CPC classification(s) identified.
  7. Broaden your search with foreign patents, U.S. patent classification, keywords, non-patent literature and/or a patent professional search.

Before you begin, you may want to check out the video from the USPTO titled "How to Conduct a Preliminary U.S. Patent Search: A Step by Step Strategy."

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Seven Step Strategy for Preliminary Patent Searching Using USPTO Website

Before applying for a patent, it is wise to perform a search to confirm that nobody has already patented it or made it part of public knowledge.  The USPTO suggests the following Seven Step Strategy for performing a patent search:

  1. Brainstorm terms to describe your invention.
  2. Access and review CPC classification schema using USPTO's website site search.  Type "CPC", "scheme", and a keyword for your classification.
  3. Access and review CPC classification definitions linked to CPC classifications in a scheme.
  4. Retrieve and review issued patents using the CPC classification(s) identified.
  5. Conduct in-depth review of those patents you selected based on front-page information.
  6. Retrieve and review published patent applications using the CPC classification(s) identified.
  7. Broaden your search with foreign patents, U.S. patent classification, keywords, non-patent literature and/or a patent professional search.

Before you begin, you may want to check out the video from the USPTO titled "How to Conduct a Preliminary U.S. Patent Search: A Step by Step Strategy."

U.S. Patent Search Tools

International Patent Search Tools

Searching Special Subjects

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Searching Plants Patents

You can search plant patents using many of the suggested sources on this site, but the majority will only have black and white images of these plants.  The color is an important part of a plant patent; luckily there are options for viewing these color images.  As a PTRC, the West Campus Library at Texas A&M University has color plant patents in their collection.  

One option available online is the below database from the University of Maryland that has scanned color images of plant patents from 1994-2009.  The project is still in process.

Another database for color images of plant patents is the following resource from the New York Public Library's Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL), with images patents from 2012 to present.

Researching Patent Value