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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.

Historical or Significant Patents

Significant Historical Patents of the United States - Jim Bieberich, Patent Historian

The National Inventors Hall of Fame! - Inventure Place

Mothers & daughters of invention : notes for a revised history of technology

Covers the 1800's onward and includes topics such as medical apparatus patentees, stoves & related cooking inventions patented by women in the 19th century, Miscellaneous Agricultural Inventions, Women Patentees of Dish washing Tools & Machines & more.

Patent Guides

The pocket idiot's guide to patents / by Gregory Scott Smith, Robert J. Frohwein. New York : Alpha Books, c2004.

Patent law / Janice M. Mueller. New York : Aspen Publishers, c2009. Available at D'Angelo Law Library, Permanent Reserve, XXKF3114.M84 2009

Patent it yourself / David Pressman. Berkeley, CA: Nolo, c2008. Available at D'Angelo Law Library XXKF3114.​6.​P742 2008

Contact Information

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

Finding the Full Text

Full-text, print copies of patents are NOT available at the University of Chicago. However, faculty, staff & students of the University can use SciFinder Scholar (a desktop research tool for accessing information in Chemical Abstracts databases) to search for patents or any of the resources listed above. Once you have located the patent you are interested in, then you need to locate a print or electronic copy. You have three options:

  1. Search the web for full-text electronic copies of patents
  2. Contact or visit the nearest "Patent Depository Library"
  3. Contact a commercial patent provider (patents at a cost)

Libraries designated as Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs) receive current issues of U.S. patents and maintain collections of earlier-issued patents as well as trademarks.  The Harold Washington Library (Chicago Public Library), located on 400 S. State street in Chicago, is an official Patent Depository library (federal). The collection consists of all utility patents from 1790 to those issued as recently as four weeks ago, complete design patents from 1843 to those issued about 4 months ago, & plant patents from 1932 to those issued as recently as 6-8 weeks ago.  Copies of these patents, with the indexes & other publications used for searching them, are available in the Business/Science/Technology Division of the Central Library

Locate a patent depository library in your area (US only) via the Patent & Trademark Depository Library Program or:

Contact the US Patent & Trademark Office