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Patents

What is a patent?

  • A patent gives a legal right to the patent holder to prevent other people from making, using or selling their invention for a limited period.
  • In order to be granted a patent, the patent holder must demonstrate that their invention is novel and capable of being made into a product or used as a process by industry. They must publicly disclose full details of their invention.
  • This means that patents can be an important source of information for researchers, much of which is not available in journals or conference papers.

Why use patents as an information source?

  • To study the historic development of technologies.
  • To identify work which has already been done in the field you are researching.
  • To identify experts in particular areas.

Note: Inventors must file patent applications according to the laws in each of the countries they want protection. Therefore, not all patents are identical for the same invention or in English.

Finding patents

Patent websites and search tools
Research databases

Books on patents