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

Patents Help

Jim Gillispie -

JHU Technologies

JHU Research Administration

  • Includes the university offices which oversee sponsored projects including contracts, grants, and funding opportunities
  • Provides administrative support and resources for JHU researchers, on issues such as compliance, policies and regulations, funding, forms, training, and technology transfer

JHU Technology Transfer

  • Helps Hopkins inventors and researchers with licensing, patenting, and technology commercialization

Getting Started


  • Protects an invention

    Three types of patents (from USPTO):

    1) "Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof

    2) Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture

    3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant"

Provisional utility or plant patent is a "quick and inexpensive way for inventors to establish a U.S. filing date for their invention, which can be claimed in a later-filed nonprovisional application. A provisional application is automatically abandoned 12 months after its filing date and is not examined."

  • 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 database -- their patent TITLES have a lot of extra added detail to help you see 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

Searching Patents in Derwent Innovations Index


DII Derwent Innovations Index
IPC Codes

International Patent Classification (IPC) 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 -- for example, H03B is H (Electricity), 03 (Basic Electronic Circuitry), B (Generation etc.):

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 -- don't use Google Patents alone because it's incomplete, has scanning errors, and doesn't include the most recent patents.