Patents are the form of intellectual property registration specifically meant for inventions, including plants and designs, to prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention in the U.S.
American patents are filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The most common, meant for "process, machine, article of manufacture, compositions of matter, or any new useful improvement thereof" (USPTO Patent FAQ). Duration of a patent for applications marked June 8, 1995 and after, begins on the date of the grant and ends 20 years from date of application, as long as maintenance fees have been paid.
To register "a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture" (USPTO Patent FAQ). Duration is 14 years from the date the patent was granted, no maintenance fees required. Design patent numbers start with a D.
To register the creation of new "asexually reproduced plant varieties" (USPTO Patent FAQ). Duration of a patent for applications marked June 8, 1995 and after, begins on the date of the grant and ends 20 years from date of application. No maintenance fees required. Plant patent numbers start with a P.
A useful tutorial on how to read a patent: "Patents and Patentability" (created by the UMN Libraries).
Patent: Wildman, J.R. (1981, December 29). U.S. Patent No. D262,473. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Patent applications are submitted to the government body responsible for intellectual property in each country or region.
To find patents and patent applications, a good first step is the government body responsible. However, as these databases can be tricky to use and the information they provide is free, there are a number of free services that aim to make patent searching a bit easier. Stevens students, faculty and staff can also find patents in Scopus, one of the Library's subscription databases.
The federal government designates several libraries around the country as Depository Libraries, meaning they receive copies of all or most government publications (such as patents) to make these documents available to everyone.
We live near two of them: the Newark Public Library and the New York Public Library.
Both of these libraries are open to the public, meaning you can use certain resources without a library card. We recommend checking their websites for hours of availability and directions.
Also a Patent & Trademark Depository Library, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (formerly known as the Science, Industry and Business Library) holds the entire collection of U.S. Patents on microfilm as well as a Foreign and International Patents Collection.
Source: IEEE Editorial Style Manual
J. K. Author, “Title of patent,” U.S. Patent x xxx xxx, Abbrev. Month, day, year.
J. P. Wilkinson, “Nonlinear resonant circuit devices,” U.S. Patent 3 624 125, July 16, 1990.
Note: Use “issued date” if several dates are given.
Inventor Last Name, Initials. (Year Of Patent Issue). Patent Identifier No.. State, city: Patent Office Name.
Bell, A. G. (1876). U.S. Patent No. 174,465. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Patent Owner 1; Patent Owner 2; etc. Title of Patent. Patent Number, Date.
Sheem, S. K. Low-Cost Fiber Optic Pressure Sensor. U.S. Patent 6,738,537, May 18, 2004.
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines intellectual property as "creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce." IP is a legal term, and these "creations of the mind" are legally protected for a period of time so that the creators have an incentive to create, but eventually they fall out of legal protection so that the creations can be reused and expanded upon by future creators.
Inventions are protected by patents; literary and artistic works by copyright; and designs, symbols, names and images by trademark. Below are some resources for learning more about IP and how to protect your own.