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Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Intellectual Property

Information and resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs.

Searching for Patents

Important Terms

Prior art: Any evidence that your invention is already known. Prior art does not need to exist physically or be commercially available. It is enough that someone, somewhere, sometime previously has described or shown or made something that contains a use of technology that is very similar to your invention. (taken from European Patent Office)

State-of-the-art: the level of development (as of a device, procedure, process, technique, or science) reached at any particular time usually as a result of modern methods. (taken from Merriam Webster Dictionary)

USPTO Resources

Patent Research

In order to be eligible for a patent, an invention must meet three criteria:

  1. New
  2. Useful
  3. Non-obvious

*Ideas are not patentable. The invention must be produced in order to be eligible for a patent. 

Patent Classification Schema

While searching U.S. patents, you may come across a couple of Classification Schema Codes (codes that help organize and identify U.S. patents). USPC (United States Patent Classification) and CPC (Cooperative Patent Classification).

CPCs are the codes that should be used for all new patents. The new Cooperative Patent Classification was born from a partnership between the U.S. and the European Patent Office to coordinate the coding and simplify searches for existing patents. 

Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) codes are organized using the system below:

            Sample CPC: G02C 5/08

            G- Section- Physics

            G02- Class- optics

            G02C- Subclass- spectacles

            G02C 5/00- Maingroup- constructions of non-optical parts

            G02C 5/08- Subgroup- foldable



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