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Patents: Understanding Patents

Resources for finding, obtaining and understanding patents.

What is a patent?

A patent is a property right granted to an inventor.  In the United States, it is "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling" the invention in the United States for a limited period of time (usually 20 years.)

Patents are issued to encourage new inventions by (1) protecting the right of the inventor to profit from the invention, and (2) making public the details of the invention to allow others to build on that knowledge.

The patent literature is a very useful source of business information (Who is developing products in a field? What are my competitors doing?); career information (What companies or universities might want someone with my interests/skills?) and technical information (What technology is available for my purpose?  How is a certain type of chemical synthesized?)

UCSB inventors should see the UCSB Technology & Industry Alliances website at for more information.

Guides to Patents


  • UCSB Technology & Industry Alliances (
    • UC and UCSB policy and advice for UCSB faculty, staff and other inventors.
    • The Patent Basics section ( has useful introductory material.
    • See also Intellectual Property Essentials for Academic Researchers ( for a good video introduction to patents and other intellectual property.
  • About Patents - USPTO (
    • Links to a vast array of useful material, including basic facts, types of patents, how to get a patent, search tips, Manual of Patent Classification and much more.
  • FAQs Patents - WIPO (
    • Frequently Asked Questions and other basic information on patents from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • FAQs - EPO (
    • Some useful basic information, including an introduction to the International Patent Classification Codes.
  • PIUG Patent Resources (
    • The Patent Information Users Group (PIUG) is an international organization of patent information specialists - the most knowledgeable group on patent information in the world.
    • As part of PIUG's Wiki site, this page is a collection of links to useful patent resorucces on the Web,
  •  American Chemical Society, Committee on Patents and Related Matters (
    • In addition to the membership and activites of the committee itself, this site features documents aimed a chemists on patents, patent law, and ownership of inventions.
  • Intellogist (
    • This site, creaced by Landon IP, provides useful resources for patent searches, including an interactive map of patent issuing countries and the search services that index them, reports on features of search services, and a glossary and discussion forum.
  • "The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Patent System" (
    • A good introductory article from 2003 by Bruce Lehman, chairman of the international Intellectual Property Institute.
  • Biopatent law: patent strategies and patent management / by Andreas Hubel, Thilo Schmeicher and Ulrich Storz 2012: Springer
  • "Chemical Patents" by Michael J. White, in Chemical Information for Chemists: A Primer, ed by Judith Currano and Dana Roth. 2-14:RSC
  • The chemist's companion guide to patent law / by Chris P. Miller, Mark J. Evans
    Reference KF 3133 .C4 M55 2010
  • Patent searching : tools & techniques [edited by] David Hunt, Long Nguyen, Matthew Rodgers.
    Sciences Engineering Library T210 .H86 2007
  • How to make patent drawings : a patent it yourself companion / by Jack Lo and David Pressman
    Sciences Engineering Library T223.U3 L6 2007
  • How to invent and protect your invention: a guide to patents for scientists and engineers / by Joseph P. Kennedy, Wayne H. Watkins, and Elyse N. Ball   2012: Wiley
  • Intellectual property in academia: a practical guide for scientists and engineers / by Nadya Reingand 2011: CRC Press
  • Essentials of patents / Andy Gibbs, Bob DeMatteis.
    Sciences Engineering Library T211 .G53 2002
  • Patent fundamentals for scientists and engineers / Thomas T. Gordon, Arthur S. Cookfair.
    Sciences Engineering Library T339 .G67 2000
  • Patent strategy for reseaerchers and research managers / by H. Jackson Knight 2013: Wiley
  • Patent, trademark, and copyright searching on the Internet / by Charles C. Sharpe.
    Sciences Engineering Library T210 .S53 2000
  • Patent it yourself by David Pressman ; edited by Stephen Elias & Patricia Gima
    Sciences Engineering Library, Reference Area KF3114.6 .P74 1996
  • Understanding chemical patents : a guide for the inventor/ John T. Maynard, Howard M. Peters.
    Sciences Engineering Library, Reference Area T211 .M39 1991
  • Writing chemistry patents and intellectual property: a practical guide / by Francis J. Waler (

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