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Library of Engineering & Science
Intellectual Property Glossary
Copyrights protect literary, artistic, and musical materials. They are administered by the Library of Congress and last for the life of the author plus seventy additional years.
Patents protect inventions. They are administered by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and last up to twenty years from date of filing.
Trademark protects identifiers (logos, names, slogans, etc.) that are used to identify the source of a commercial good or service. They are administered by the USPTO and they last as long as they remain in active use.
Trade Secrets protect secret information, often information that isn't patentable or is too sensitive to patent. They only last as long as they're secret, and are protected by legal documents like non-disclosure agreements.
Effective patent searching involves more than using keywords. Save time and maximize your success by completing this module:
Patents Search Strategy Tutorial (approx. 5 minutes)
Public & Free sources:
Free, user-friendly, open access resource for world wide patent research. Years of coverage vary by country.
Worldwide patent search provided by the European Patent Office (EPO). Years of coverage dependent on country.
Perform a quick search for patents (not comprehensive - if a patent is located through this search engine it is recommended you search the patent number through the USPTO or Epacenet to ensure you have the most up-to-date version.)
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
Official database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Full text searching from 1976-present, limited searching back to 1790.
Patents Databases (Purdue users only):
Derwent Innovations Index
Provides enhancements to patent searching, such as simplified names and descriptions. Content includes patents from 40 world-wide patent-issuing authorities, including the U.S. 1963-present.
Ask a Librarian
Have a question? Contact a Purdue University Libraries staff member. Email and chat programs are available.
Library of Engineering and Science Information Desk
Have a question? Do you want to talk to a Library of Engineering and Science staff member? Phone: 765-494-0831