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Chemistry & Biochemistry: Patents

Research guide for chemistry

What is a patent?

"A patent is an exclusive right to a product or a process that generally provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application." (WIPO)

Characteristics of a patent

Patents are characterized by:

  1. Exclusive Rights: Grants exclusive use for a limited period.

  2. Public Disclosure: Details are disclosed in the patent document.

  3. Limited Duration: Typically 20 years.

  4. Novelty: Requires new, non-publicly known inventions.

  5. Non-Obviousness: Should not be obvious to experts.

  6. Utility: Must have practical use.

  7. Patent Claims: Define the protected scope.

  8. Application Process: Involves examination and approval.

  9. International Protection: Can be filed internationally.

  10. Infringement Rights: Allows legal action for unauthorized use.


Searching for a patent

To find a patent:

  • Google Patent Search
    Search for granted patents and applications from USPTO and other international bodies. More info on Google Patents.
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
    Full text of all US patents from 1790 to the present. To save a PDF, you can enter the patent number into Patent Fetcher.
  • SciFinder (Chemical Abstracts)
    A good place to start. Patents are selected from over 35,000 International Patent Classification (IPC) codes and 99 U.S. National Patent Classification Codes.
  • esp@cenet
    European Patent Organization contains 4 databases of patent records from around the world. Includes U.S. patents after the 1820.

  • pat2pdf
    Fast way to retrieve a PDF of a U.S. patent using a patent number.

  • Canadian Patent Database
    Provide users with extensive information on Canadian patent documents from 1920 to present.