Patent information guide

This guide is designed for novice inventors looking for general information on patents and patent information.

Serious investors should contact the SFU Industry Engagement for professional advice and services.

What is a Patent?

"a right, granted by government, to exclude others from making, using, or selling your invention in Canada."

"Patents cover new inventions (process, machine, manufacture, compostion of matter) or any new and useful improvement of an existing machine." 

"A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention."

Background information

Intellectual Property Law and Legislation

Searching for Patents

  • Canadian Patents Database - access to over 75 years of patent descriptions and images from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
  • esp@cenet - Europe's network of patent databases. A free service on the internet provided by the European Patent Organisation and the national offices of its members' states.
  • Google Patents - Patents from the USPTO - but with a Google-like searching interface. Google and USPTO have an agreement to provide patents (grants, applications, assignments, classification information, and maintenance fee events) and trademarks (grants, applications, assignments, and TTAB proceedings)
  • IEEE Explore - Not a patent database per se, but can display "citing patents" for any given article, showing US and European patents that cite that particular article. The full-text of the patent is available via links to the USPTO website.
  • International Patent Classification (IPC)- The IPC is a hierarchical classification system consisting of about 70,000 subgroups. It is used by more than 100 patent offices to classify patent documents. IPC codes are searchable in most patent databases.
  • Nexis Uni - US patents, European patents, patent abstracts of Japan, PCT patents, and UK patents. Coverage from 1790-current. To find patents, click the Menu crop-down list (located near the top of the page) and choose Patent.
  • SciFinder Scholar - references to chemical-related patents (as well as patent applications) with links to full-text and images where they are freely available. If you are doing a chemical patent search for non-academic research which may be patentable, users should contact CAS directly about obtaining a commercial STN account instead of searching in SciFinder Scholar (which is restricted to academic research).
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office - full-text since 1976, full-page images since 1790, as well as access to US patent applications. A TIFF viewer is required to view images.

Ordering Patents

Wacky Patents

Need Help?

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