Explore engineering articles, patents, standards, and other information.

Getting Started


  • Protects an invention
  • Utility patents and design patents
  • Utility -- how it works or how you use it
  • Design -- its appearance, including shape or decoration
  • Difference:  "A 'utility patent' protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a 'design patent' protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171).

    Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. ...Articles of manufacture may possess both functional and ornamental characteristics."
  • Protects an original artistic or literary work
  • A "word, phrase, symbol or design...that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others"

Patent searching requires patience -- give yourself time.

Patent Databases

Derwent Innovations Index

START WITH THIS ONE, because  the titles include lots of detail so you know exactly what it's about.

  • Search the full text of patents since Jan 1, 1976
  • Patents issued from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by patent number and current U.S. classifications
  • Full-page images are available back to 1790, and require a TIFF image viewer

More Patents and Patent Applications

Here are places to find patents that have been applied for, but not yet granted or denied.
  • Google Patents  -- After you do a search, use the fields in the left column to narrow your search
  • PAT2PDF -- Enter a patent number to find and download patents from the USPTO
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Searching Patents in Derwent Innovations Index

These are steps from this tutorial about how to search Derwent.

(This is a PDF Quick Reference Guide).


DII Derwent Innovations Index
IPC Codes

International Patent Classification Codes

  • There are 8 of these, and those 8 have more divisions, and those divisions have more divisions
  • You can truncate IPC codes, so that you can see a broad range of them

Derwent Class Codes
  • Use to get all patents in a category of inventions
  • Three broad categories (Engineering, Electrical, and Chemical), which are divided up into 20 smaller categories. They all start with a letter and two numbers; for example, Electrical --> Electric Power Engineering --> starts with X, and X21 is "electric vehicles."
Derwent Manual Codes
  • Use to find the novel (new; original) aspects or applications of patents

World Intellectual Property Organization

It controls the IPC codes -- Here's an easy way to explore the whole list of IPC codes

1. Search for something.  You can use TOPIC or TITLE; if you get too many hits from TOPIC, switch to TITLE.  always notice the years. Add a row if you want to.

2. Or, you can start your search by looking at lists for Inventor, IPC codes, Class codes, Manual codes, or Assignee. Use "select from list" on the left.

3. If you have too many results, add words to the TITLE. Change the dates if you want to.

4. Your search words are highlighted. Codes for IPC, classes, and manual are on the bottom left.

5. Most of these have IPC codes that start with the same thing. So let's click BACK, and put that beginning of that popular IPC code onto another line, with an asterisk -- this will get all of the IPC codes that *start* with this. Note that this strategy will get you MORE results. Also, in every record, you can click on the IPC codes and see all of them.

6. Derwent Class Codes are divided into 20 broad subject areas.

7. Again, the big advantage of using Derwent over the other patent databases and tools is that these titles have been expanded so that you know exactly what the patent is about.

  • However, you can also combine USPTO and Google Patents to get decent results -- you can't use Google Patents alone because it's incomplete, has scanning errors, and doesn't include the most recent patents.