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The University of Arizona

Business Intelligence Resources


Jeremiah Paschke-Wood's picture
Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
Main Library A205
(520) 500-6176


What is a Patent?

A patent is the intellectual property right granted by the US Government to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout US or importing the invention into the US" for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when patent is granted.In most cases this is twenty years from the date of application. In some situations, the term of the patent may be extended due to delays in the processing of the application. After the patent has expired, the invention becomes public domain. In addition, patent owners must pay a maintenance fee at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after issue or else the patent will expire.

Patent Types:

Utility Patent - Describes a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture , or composition of matter, or useful improvement thereof (what something does)

Design Patent - A new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture (how something looks)

Plant Patent - Describes an asexually reproduced distinct and new variety of plant (for example ‘NuMex Heritage 6-4’ New Mexican Chile Pepper)

Google Patents

Patent Classification System

The primary purpose of a patent classification system is to provide for an effective and efficient means of organizing and retrieving patent documents by technological subject. Espacenet is particularly useful in drilling down on a classification number.

Classification vs. Keywords

Searching by classification is superior to keyword searching because it is:

  • Language independent
  • Terminology/jargon independent
  • Applied by experts (patent office staff)
  • Available for (old) patent documents that lack searchable full text
  • Useful for concept searching

Other purposes of classification include:

  • Selective dissemination of patent information
  • State of the art searching
  • Preparation of IP statistics


AcclaimIP - provided by TLA, this database is for advanced patent searching.  Please see your supervisor for access information.


SciFinder - the premier source for searching for chemical compounds, formulas, etc. in patent literature.  Please Note:  

Registration is required Click here to register.

Espacenet  Espacenet is accessible to beginners and experts and is updated daily. It contains data on more than 95 million patent documents from around the world. Supporting information can help you understand whether a patent has been granted and if it is still in force.

USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT) quick search page.  This is the database for searching all granted patents.

USPTO Patent Application Database - search all of the applications for patent protection.

PatentScope from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).