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What are patents?

Patents are a type of intellectual property. They provide legally enforceable rights that give the patent owner the exclusive right to use their inventions commercially for the life of the patent.

Patents must be applied for in every jurisdiction (there is no global patent), and the applicant must show that their unique device, substance, method, or process is:

  • new
  • useful
  • inventive
  • innovative

Why search for patents?

  • Discover the latest developments in a field
  • Access information that's not published in any other form
  • Find competitive product information
  • Find detailed technical information about a product, including drawings and diagrams
  • Avoid duplicating research and development work
  • Discover new trends in technology or product development at early stages
  • Gain evidence of research impact
  • Protect intellectual property and facilitate new knowledge
  • Evaluate the patentability of an innovation or invention
  • Avoid infringement by identifying protected patents

This LibGuide is partially adapted from University of Wollongong Library's Patents LibGuide with permission.