"A patent is a property right granted by a government agency (in the United States, it's the US Patent & Trademark Office) for a novel, useful, and non-obvious invention. Patent protection lasts twenty years from the filing date and allows the inventor or their assignee to exclude other people from making, using, selling, or importing an invention."
Patent literature is a rich source of information for engineering design. Patents searches are often conducted for one of three reasons:
- to locate detailed technical information not available elsewhere;
- for patentability purposes, to start to determine if an invention is "novel" by assessing whether it is covered by an existing patent;
- to determine the "state of the art" in a given area of technology -- get design inspiration!
Purdue Libraries Database:
Derwent Innovations Index
Value-added patent information from Derwent World Patent Index as well as patent citation information from Patents Citation Index®.
Free Patent Search Tools:
Free, user-friendly, open access resource for world wide patent research. Years of coverage vary by 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.)
Worldwide patent search provided by the European Patent Office (EPO). Years of coverage dependent on country.
More resources available:
Additionally, the Library of Engineering and Science at Purdue University (located in the WALC) is designated a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) by the USPTO.
PTRC staff are information experts trained to use search tools to access patent and trademark information. Additionally, on-site,the library has access to PubWest and PubEast, patent examiner-based search systems.