Patents and Trademarks : Overview
What Is a Patent?
A patent is a grant of property right by the government to an inventor preventing others from making, using, or selling a new and useful invention for a period of 20 years from application date.
Watch library videos on patents:
- Part 1 (What are patents? What can be patented?)
- Part 2 (What are the elements of a patent? What can you learn from patents?)
How are patents different from trademarks and copyrights?
Watch a video on IP basics from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Basic Facts: Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights
Why search patents?
Searching patents during design can help you:
- Determine if your design idea is novel
- Identify areas you may need to design around to avoid infringement
- Find inventors (technical experts) with whom to collaborate
- Find inventions that are free to use because of expired or unissued patents
- Monitor emerging designs in a technology area that may not be published elsewhere
- Identify key companies in a technology area who may be interested in your design.
The most comprehensive source for U.S. patent and trademark information is the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: