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Patents and Intellectual Property

This guide covers patents, what they are, how to find them and how to apply for a patent. It also offers resources about copyright and fair use of materials for academic purposes.

Types of Patents

"are granted for new, useful, & nonobvious processes, machines, manufactured articles, compositions, or improvements in any of the above. Examples of utility patents range from the well-known artificial heart valve (#4,490,859) to the microwave clothes dryer (#4,490,923)". (Levy, Richard. Inventing & Patenting Sourcebook, Detroit: Gale Research Inc, p.6)

"are available for the invention of new, original, & ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. A design patent only protects the appearance of an article & not its structure or utilitarian features. Examples of design patents range from the ordinary combined toothbrush holder/tumbler (#278,586) to a seaweed plate garnish for a sushi dish (#278,565)". (Levy, Richard. Inventing & Patenting Sourcebook, Detroit: Gale Research Inc, p.6)

"are provided to anyone who has invented or discovered & asexually reproduced any distinct & new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, & newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. Examples of plant patents include a new & distinct cultivator of African violet (#5,383), a variety of almond tree (#5,382), & a chrysanthemum plant named Organdy (#5,278)". (Levy, Richard. Inventing & Patenting Sourcebook, Detroit: Gale Research Inc, p.67).

  • Plant Patents - US Patent & Trademark Office
  • - Vincent Gioia
  • The First Plant Patents - Robert Starr Allyn, Brooklyn, Educational Foundations, Inc., c1934.
    Available at the John Crerar Library, University of Chicago, microfilm SB123.5.A565.

Lifetime of a Patent

"For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, utility and plant patents are granted for a term which begins with the date of the grant and usually ends 20 years from the date you first applied for the patent subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. Design patents last 14 years from the date you are granted the patent."("How long does Patent protection last?"(USPTO) [Accessed April 14, 2010] )

"The maximum term of a European patent is twenty years from the date of filing. If the annual renewal fees are not duly paid or if the patentee revokes his patent or the patent is revoked, the patent might lapse earlier. In certain cases (medical or plant protection product patents) the possibility exists to extend the period of protection. " EPO <> [Accessed April 12, 2010])

"The duration of a patent right shall expire after a period of 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. Meanwhile, an extension of the patent term by up to five years may be available for patents for pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals on request if the prescribed requirements are fulfilled. A patent right shall become effective from the date of registration of the patent." [Accessed April 12, 2010])

"If you have a granted patent, you must renew it every year after the 5th year for up to 20 years protection.". ("FAQ - How long does a patent last?" The International Property Office.  "What is a Patent?" [Accessed April 15, 2010])

"For patent applications filed before October 1, 1989, the term of the patent is normally 17 years from the date of issue. However, where the term for the patent had not expired before July 12, 2001, then the term is 17 years from the issued date or 20 years from the filing date, whichever term expires later. For patent applications filed on or after October 1, 1989, the term of the patent is 20 years from the date of filing of the application.". ("Help" Canadian Patent Database ) [Accessed April 14, 2010])

Contact Information

Jennifer Hart
Librarian for Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics
Ryerson Physical Laboratory 156
Email Jenny