Skip to main content
Ask A Librarian

Patents: Introduction

Patents, patent searching, inventor resources

Useful Links

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

USPTO Search Page

USPTO Classification Page

European Patent Office Search Page



Terms of Patents

  • The terms of utility and plant patents are 20 years from application date.
  • The term of design patents is 14 years from date of issue.


Of the 4 main types of Intellectual Property Protection, Copyright, Trademark, Trade Secret, and Patent, Patent is introduced here.

A Patent is a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throught the United states or importing the invention intor the United States" for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

3 Types of Patents

3 Types of Patents

  • Utility--an new, useful, and nonobvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. 


  • Design--a new, orginial, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. 


  • Plant--an asexually reproduced distinct and new variety of plant.


Criteria for Obtaining a Patent

4 Criteria are

  1. Novelty (New)
  2. Useful (Utility)
  3. Unobviousness
  4. Statutory Class (process or method, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or a new or useful improvement thereof.)

Citing Patents

Citations for patents vary depending on the format:

MLA Citation:

Jobs, Steve, et al. "Highly portable media device." Patent 8,993,866. 31 March 2015.

APA Citation:

Jobs, S., et al. (2015).  U.S. Patent No. 8,993,866. Washington, DC: U.S.

ACS Citation:

Jobs, S., et al. Highly portable media device.  U.S. Patent 8,993,866, 2015.

CSE Citation:

Jobs, S, et al, inventor; 2015 Mar. 31. Highly portable media device. United States patent US 8,993,866.

Chicago Manual of Style:

Jobs, S., et al. Highly portable media device.  US Patent 8,993,866, filed August 3, 2012, and issued March 31, 2015 .


See also:

Patent & Trademark Librarian

Marian Armour-Gemmen's picture
Marian Armour-Gemmen
Evansdale Library

Ask Marian