Skip to Main Content

Intellectual Property LibGuide

Cover Page of a Patent

A United States patent is a property interest granted by the the United States Patent and Trademark Office which gives an inventor the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or offering to sell his invention. The document below is the first page of a typical patent, showing the names of the inventors [75], the name of the invention [54], and the patent number [11].  Other important numbered fields of the patent include the date the patent was issued [45], the date when the patent application was filed [22],  and the abstract [57], which is a brief description of the patent. However, the most important part of any patent is the legal language (not shown) which is located at the end of the document, which describes the details of the invention and is referred to as the claims. The claims may be analogized to the property description on a real estate deed, which sets out the metes and bounds of the property.

Introduction to Patent Law

Concerning the laws of patents, Abraham Lincoln, our only inventor president, once said that they secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.  A cornerstone of our economy, patent law stimulates innovation and investment in science. This guide provides a comprehesive set of resources on legal research in this important area of intellectual property law. 

35 USC § 101 - Inventions patentable

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

Overview of the Patent Process from United States Patent and Trademark Office (Utility Patent)

Patent Certificate