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University of Wollongong Australia

Patent Searching: Introduction to patents

What is a patent?

Patents are one type of Intellectual Property. Others include: trademarks, designs, copyright, circuit layout rights, plant breeder's rights and confidentiality/trade secrets.

"A patent is a right granted for any device, substance, method or process which is new, inventive and useful.  A patent is legally enforceable and gives the owner the exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention for the life of the patent."

Why use patents?

Patents are a primary source of technical and detailed information including drawings and diagrams.

80% of patent literature is not published in any other form.


  • offer the earliest source of information
  • provide all the details of the invention
  • show what competitors are doing
  •  display trends in technology and the key players
  • avoid duplication and legal disputes if searched prior to manufacturing a product
    list prior art (existing literature)

Learning outcomes

By working through this tutorial you will:

  • explore a number of patent websites
  • use classification searches
  • access Library databases
  • in many cases locate the full text patent

UOW Intellectual Property Management

Intellectual Property Management policies.

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