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How do I find a patent?

Information about patents and how to research them.

Need Help?

Ask a Librarian @
Betty Sue Jessup Library

501 College Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22902

What is a patent search?

  • Patent searching is the process of researching previous patents relevant to a specific invention or idea.
  • Before beginning to build a prototype of your invention, you should do a patent search to ensure that your idea has not already been patented.
  • Searching for prior patents relevant to your own invention helps you demonstrate how you have distinguished your invention from previous inventions.
  • Patent searches are essential because during the patent application process, you must submit the findings of your patent search with your patent application.
  • Failing to conduct a comprehensive patent search could result in the validity of your patent being challenged in the future.

Patent Search Tutorials

MIT Inventor's Handbook


The MIT Inventor's Handbook offers a great introduction to patent searching. 

USPTO Patent Search

Google Patent Search