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Patents, Tradmarks, & Copyrights  

Last Updated: May 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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News about Patents

  • PatentScope
    now includes the Canadian national collection from ~1920 forward. No PDFs yet, it appears, but full text (based on OCR) is available for some patents. A few pre-1970s patents have IPC codes, so keyword searching may be required for some types of searches. This gives researchers another option for searching Canadian patents from the early 20th century forward.

    Other national collections to be added in the next few months include the Eurasian Patent Office, Germany, and UK.
  • Business Owners Adjusting to Overhaul of Patent Systems
    Article in the NY Times on Feb 9, 2012
  • Recent Developments in US Patent Law  
    "a nice summary of the recent changes in U.S. patent law in the Jan 2012 issue of Physics Today, their relevance to academic scientists & engineers. The American Invents Act moves the U.S. from a first-to-invent system to a (modified) first-to-file system. Under the pure first-to-file system used by most countries, publication of an idea or invention prior to filing a patent application will prevent an inventor from obtaining a patent. The AIA retains a one-year grace period for publications
  • Legislative History of America Invents Act
    Legislative history and recent commentaries about impact of new law.
  • America Invents Act becomes Law
    On Sept 16, 2011, President Obama signed the first changes in Patent Law in years. Read the discussion about this in
  • 8 Millionth U.S. Patent Issued Today, August 16, 2011
  • World Intellectual Property Day
    Celebrating its 10th Anniversary on April 26, 2010

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In an era when technology and new emerging technologies are driving forces in the design and re-engineering of new products, it is important to recognize how the patent literature informs business models and changes.  In the area of technology transfer, and intellectual property, protecting one's intellectual contributions is critically important as the commercial potential for product development can be advanced very quicky.  Legally, individuals and corporate entities must be careful about filing these forms of intellectual property and complying with the jurisdiction in which they reside or are registered.

Simply stated, patents are defined as the right 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. A patent is, in effect, a limited property right that the government offers to inventors in exchange for their agreement to share the details of their inventions with the public. Like any other property right, it may be sold, licensed, mortgaged, assigned or transferred, given away, or simply abandoned. Patents give the right to decide who may use the patented invention, when permissions are granted for use and to sell the right to the invention to another party.

There are many different kinds of patents:

  • Utility Patents - for new & useful process, machine, item manufactured or a composition of matter
  • Design Patents - for new, original and ornamental design for an item to be produced or manufactured
  • Plant Patents - for new & distinct variety of a plant

Inventors MUST disclose complete information about the process, design or plant and a patent is granted only if the application demonstrates:

  • novelty
  • non-obviousness
  • utility

The rights conveyed by a patent vary country-by-country.  National patent depositories make available patent registries and copies of all patents awarded by them.  In the United States, under current patent law, for patents filed on or after June 8, 1995, the term of the patent is 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date. For patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, the term of patent is either 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date or 17 years from the issue date, whichever is longer.  Additional information about patents is found or cited i the list of Reference Works under that tab.

Trademarks are defined as the distinctively recognized sign or indicator used by an individual, organization, corporation or other legal entity to identify that the products and/or services to consumers or the public with whichthe trademark appears originate from a unique source of origin and can be distinguished as such.  Trademarks are identified by the symbols and ®,  Another form of intellectual property, a trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, symbol, design, logo,  image or some combination of these forms.

This guide covers both US Patents and Trademarks and International.  The "Finding Patents: Key Sites" tab will direct you to both lists of appropriate sources.

Interactive Patent Coverage Map

Interesting coverage about patents worldwide. 

Top List of US Patent Recipients

The top 300 organizations that were granted US Patents in 2010 revealed that the University of California system was #83 with 349 patents.


Evaluating Information

When using Online or Internet Resources, consider Search Engines vs. metasites - evaluate resource - consider domain - .edu, .com, .gov, .org, etc.

Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources - or Evaluation Techniques for Internet Resources

  1. Authority control - authorship - who, affiliation, where
  2. Currency - note the date, the update, does it reflect the right period of time
  3. Evaluate the source - establish criteria that is meaningful to covering the topic
  4. Citing Internet resources - URL & date of the search
  5. Capturing and citing
  6. Copying

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Julia Gelfand, Applied Sciences & Engineering Librarian
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Office: Ayala Science Library 228
Phone: 949-824-4971

How to Read a Patent

If you are unfamiliar with a patent and how it is organized and arranged, the following sources may be helpful in understanding the layout of a patent application.


Sources to find trademark information include:


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