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Electrical, Computer & Systems Engineering

General guide to resources for electrical engineering and computer science.

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Patents & Trademarks


A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. 


In the U.S., patents and trademarks are issued by the USPTO.  U.S. patents are effective only within the U.S, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions.  Each country has its own granting institution.  At the international level, the licensing process is facilitated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

How to search for patents

Why use both Google Patents and USPTO?

Google Patents offers a fast way to find patents. However, a more comprehensive search has to be executed in USPTO databases.

Google Patents
  • easy, fast, and familiar
  • fulltext search available starting with first US patents
  • searches US, EPO, and WIPO at the same time
  • scanning errors
  • not updated regurlarly
  • includes only the first version of a patent

  • the most complete collection of US patents
  • most up-to-date collection
  • include useful tools
  • not easy to use
  • fulltext search starts with 1976

More sources for learning how to search for patents

Grant Patent vs Patent Application

A patent application is a request pending to be granted or issued a patent. A patent is the document at the end of the application process that has been granted a patent. The content of a patent application is different from the content of a patent.

To differentiate between patents and patent applications, one have to look at the letter following a patent number. The letter represents the kind codes used to distinguish the kind of patent document and the level of publication. Kind codes include a letter and, in many cases, a number.

 Starting with January 2, 2001, all patent applications numbers end in A1, A2, or A9.

Starting with the same date, a granted or issued patent number ends in B1 or B2

Check USPTO Kind Codes if the patent is dated before 2001 and to see all the other types of kind codes available:

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