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University of Texas Libraries
Celebrating the Life

Patent Searching

  1. Purpose and Instructions
  2. Introduction
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Index Search
  5. Classification Codes
  6. Classification Definitions
  7. Patent Review
  8. Keyword Searching
  9. Conclusion


Patent searches are generally performed to discover whether or not a particular invention is truly original or if, in fact, it has already been patented. This tutorial will focus on searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Web Patent Databases. Searching these databases allows the user to search U.S. patents from 1790 to the present.

This tutorial covers the basics of patent searching. After you have completed the tutorial, you should be able to perform a basic patent search. Expect your search to be more complex and time-consuming than the one presented here—keep in mind that the average patent search takes between 25 and 30 hours to conduct from start to finish.

It is important to remember that this tutorial is only intended to assist the user in a preliminary search. To perform an exhaustive search, additional avenues must be explored, such as international patent documents and non-patent literature. If you have further questions about the patent application process, it is recommended that you contact a registered attorney or agent.

For a listing of registered patent attorneys, point your browser to (link opens in new tab).

Screenshot of patent attorney search site.

3. Brainstorming ------->