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Patents - Choose Your Search

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The search methods detailed in this tutorial are based on the U.S. Patent Classification system developed and maintained by the USPTO. If you are searching for patents based on subject matter, the U.S. Classification search is most useful because every patent is assigned to a specific set of classifications. While Keyword searching is useful, complete search results are less likely due to the inconsistency of terminology used in the full text of patents.

Patents Search Plan

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Making a Plan

You, the inventor or researcher, will be responsible for conducting your own search. The success of your search will depend heavily on your familiarity with the technological subject area of the invention.  We recommend that you take the three preliminary steps below to insure the best and most complete search as possible.


Patents - Before You Search

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Why conduct a patent search? People search patents for many reasons, most often because they have an invention they hope to patent. A search will determine whether an invention has patenting potential. Others search patents to find alternative approaches and suggestions to help resolve technological problems. Studies have shown that 80% of all patents hold information that is not published anywhere else in the world. By tapping into this tremendous resource, the searcher avoids "reinventing the wheel".

Types of Patents

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There are three different types of patents for which an inventor may apply:

Utility Patent example picture.

A Utility Patent is issued for a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.

Patent Search Tutorial

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This tutorial will help you to understand patents and the process of searching for patents. In order to ensure that your search will return the best results, this tutorial reviews a number of different techniques.

While you may review any section of this tutorial at any time, we suggest that you work your way through the tutorial by using the "Next" link below. You can also access main sections of the tutorial by using the navigation on the left from top to bottom.

LionSearch Tutorials

LionSearch: Getting Started

This three and a half minute video introduces you to LionSearch.


LionSearch 2.0 and Your Research Project: Starting

This 2 1/2-minute video covers scholarly sources, specific disciplines, saving results.