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Patents

Useful information for the individual inventor.

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Laura Palumbo
she/her
Contact:
Library of Science and Medicine
Piscataway, NJ 08854
848-445-3558
Website

Resources

USPTO Glossary of Patent and Intellectual Property terms

"How do I read a patent" by Brown & Michaels Law Firm. A good explanation of the front page of a patent.

USPTO Databases Important Changes

The US Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) databases, Patent Full-Text and Images (PatFT) and Application Full-Text and Images (AppFT) are being retired on September 30, 2022, and will be replaced by Patent Public Search. All three are freely available for searching until the USPTO makes the switch permanent. See the Patent Searching page for more information.

If you would like to make an appointment with me for help with patent searching, please email me at laura.palumbo@rutgers.edu. More help is available on the Patent Searching page.

Types of Patents

There are three broad types of patents:

  • Utility patent- the most common. A utility patent covers "any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof."
  • Design patent - "Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture."
  • Plant patent- "Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant." Color photographs of patented plants are kept at the Library of Science and Medicine. If you need to see them, please contact laura.palumbo@rutgers.edu before coming to the library.

More information about the types of patents are available on this helpful page from the USPTO on the Patent Process Overview.

 

Kind Codes

The Kind Code is found at the end of the US Patent number listed at the top right of the patent. This code answers the question, "What kind of patent is this?" The following kind codes were adopted in January 2001. If you are looking at an older patent, please see the USPTO website for these discontinued codes.

Summary of USPTO Kind Codes Used on Documents Published Beginning January 2, 2001
WIPO ST.16 Kind Codes
Kind of document
Comments
A1
Patent Application Publication
Pre-grant publication available March 2001
A2
Patent Application Publication (Republication)
Pre-grant publication available March 2001
A9
Patent Application Publication (Corrected Publication)
Pre-grant publication available March 2001
B1
Patent
No previously published pre-grant publication
B2
Patent
Having a previously published pre-grant publication and available March 2001
C1, C2, C3
Reexamination Certificate
Previously used codes B1 and B2 are now used for granted Patents
E
Reissue Patent
No change
H
Statutory Invention Registration (SIR)
No change
P1
Plant Patent Application Publication
Pre-grant publication available March 2001
P2
Plant Patent
No previously published pre-grant publication
P3
Plant Patent
Having a previously published pre-grant publication and available March 2001
P4
Plant Patent Application Publication (Republication)
Pre-grant publication available after March 2001
P9
Plant Patent Application Publication (Corrected Publication)
Pre-grant publication available March 2001
S
Design Patent
No change

 

 

Summary of USPTO Kind Codes Added As Result of America Invents Act of 2011
WIPO ST.16 Kind Codes
Kind of document
Comments
F1, F2, F3
Supplemental Examination Certificate
Procedure in effect September 16, 2012
J1, J2, J3
Post Grant Review Certificate
Procedure in effect September 16, 2012
K1, K2, K3
Inter Partes Review Certificate
Procedure in effect September 16, 2012
O1, O2, O3
Derivation Certificate
Procedure in effect March 16, 2013

 

Patent Classification Systems

Patent classification can be used for effective patent searching. You can think of this as the subject area. The two most widely used classification systems are the WIPO International Patent Classification (IPC) and the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). The CPC merged the USPC (United States Patent Classification System) and the ECLA (European Classification System), and is currently used by the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO). The IPC is used universally all over the world, which enables a user to search US patents as well as documents published by many other countries using no other classification system than the IPC.

Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) is used by USPTO. Patent Classifications are:

A search tool for looking up the meaning of a CPC classification code is available.

WIPO International Patent Classification (IPC) system uses the same classification sections outlined above, through H. The Y section is not used. A detailed explanation of the IPC is available in the Guide to the International Patent Classification, 2022 Edition.

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