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Patent Searching: Prior Art - Patents

Use this guide to understand the basic strategies and tools for searching for patent prior art.

Resources for Finding Patents

Patent Searching Strategies

Common types of searches for patents include:

  • Subject - using keywords used in the patent title or abstract. Once you identify patents using the keywords, examine them to determine the degree of similarity and to determine the patent classifications that best fit with your potential patent.  Then conduct a search by those classifications.
  • Classification - identifies the patent groupings within which similar patents are likely to be found. Classification searching does not rely on knowing the terminology the inventor used to describe the patent.
  • Assignee - the organization or individual who holds the property rights for the invention.
  • Number - most often used if you are aware of a patent to identify related patents that should be investigated further. Seach for either patent number or patent application number.
  • Inventor - useful if you know someone who has patented something similar to what you intend to patent.
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