Are You New to Patent Searching?

Are You New to Patent Searching?

Searching the patent literature can be a frustrating experience. In many cases, the titles of patents describe what something does instead of what it is (or what it might eventually be called). The classic example is "X-Y POSITION INDICATOR FOR A DISPLAY SYSTEM" (US 3,541,541) - that's Douglas C. Englebart's patent for the computer mouse. Another would be "IMPROVEMENT IN TELEGRAPHY" (US 174,465) - this is the telephone! Beyond the titles of the patents, other information that you'll be given will be why the inventor thinks it's useful (background of the invention) and what exactly the inventor claims that the invention will do. So, finding all relevant patents can be difficult.

To help with this, patents are currently classified using the Cooperative Patent Classification system (CPC). The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recommends a seven step approach to patent or "prior art" searching. It can take a little coaching at first, and the libraries are happy to get you going with your quest. Take a look at this guide and consider setting up a consultation that will get you headed in the right direction.

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