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Introduction to Research in Engineering

Finding a patent

What is a patent?

A  patent is granted by a government agency and gives the inventor the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention from the day the patent is granted to a maximum of 20 years after the day on which a patent application was filed. To find out more about patents refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) or the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) web sites.

Why Use Patents?

  • Patents are an underutilzed source of scientific and commercial information linking scientific theory with "real world" applications.

  • Patents and Patent Applications often contain the first disclosure of a new technology or process.
  • Patents contain diagrams and descriptions of how things work.

  • Approximately two-thirds of  the information disclosed in patents is not published elsewhere according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

 "Technologically sophisticated nations like Canada depend on the patent system for both scientific advancement and economic strength." (CIPO)

According to the CIPO what does it take to get a patent?

  1. The invention must show novelty (be the first in the world).
  2. It must show utility (be functional and operative).
  3. It must show inventive ingenuity and not be obvious to someone skilled in that area.

Patent Sources

Google Patents: Google patents provides access to the text and the images at one time. The search interface is the same as other google products.

Canadian Patents Database: Canadian Intellectual Property Office's database with over 75 years of patent descriptions and images.

Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
Contains full text patents since 1976, full page images from 1790. Patents from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by patent number and current US classification.

espacenet (EPO)
Free patent databases containing millions of patent documents from 80+ countries and includes patents from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Also contains some technical literature and journal articles related to patents.

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