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									                                                                                        LIS Guides: Patents

What is a Patent?
Patents are an increasingly important source of information within the academic community. Patent
information is a huge source of technological and commercial intelligence - about 80% of the
information contained in patents is not found elsewhere in the literature. Knowing what has been
patented helps to ensure that you don’t duplicate research or find that you cannot do anything with
research findings because they have been patented earlier by someone else.

A patent is a legal right granted to the applicant, upon fulfillment of certain conditions, which grants
them the monopoly on making, using or selling an invention, for a fixed period of time, in the
countries in which a patent has been granted. Only original inventions can be patented so the
invention must never have been made public anywhere in the world before the date the application
for a patent is filed. The invention has to be capable of industrial application and manufacture.

If you are considering patenting something yourself you need to do a very thorough search to make
sure that no one has invented something similar. As we do not have suitable resources to do this in
Swansea it would be necessary to consult a specialist patent library or use a patent agent to search for
you - the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents can help you to locate someone. The Dyson company
website gives useful advice for inventors.

Specialist patent library            
Chartered Institute of Patent Agents 
Dyson website – Help for inventors   

Where to Consult Patents

Library & Information Services (LIS)

LIS do not hold any patents, but do have a number of publications on patents, trademarks and
Intellectual Property (IP) rights, how to write patent applications, and sources of patent information.
These can be found by checking the library catalogue. The Inter-Library Loans service can obtain
patents using the British Library Patent Express service once you have found the details. The cost is
approximately £6.50 per patent or £3.70 if the British Library hold the Patent in electronic format.

The Patent Information Network (PIN)

This is a group of 13 libraries that aim to supply regional access to patent documentation. The PIN
libraries are the nearest collections of patents to UWS. The most accessible ones from Swansea are
Bristol Central Library and Birmingham Central Library. Both of these have a variety of patent
collections and allow users access to relevant CD-ROMs. Information on the other patent libraries is
available on the Patent Information Network web site.

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                                                                                        LIS Guides: Patents

The British Library Science Technology and Business Service (STB).

British Library Science Technology and Business Service co-ordinates the PIN libraries and is the
UK’s national patent library. They offer a range of services, although most aren’t free. There is a lot
of useful information on their patent web pages.

Swansea Library Catalogue            
Inter-Library loans service          
Bristol Central Library              
Birmingham Central Library           
Patent Information Network           
British Library Patent web pages     

Information Services on the Web

    •   UK Patent Office .
        The Patent Office web pages provide useful information on patents, how to apply, how to
        register designs, trademarks and copyright. They include contact information and provide
        links to other information sources. The databases provided by the Patent Office can tell you
        the status of trademarks, patents and designs, i.e. if a patent is still in force. You need the
        published number of the patent, design or trademark to search for them.

    •   Esp@ceNet .
        This is the UK Patent Office gateway to a European-wide initiative. It provides access to
        patents from individual European countries, European patents and worldwide patents. These
        cover patents back to June 1996, although the worldwide index covers back to 1976. It
        generally takes a couple of months for data to be added to the indexes. The database provides
        bibliographic details, a description, claims, first page diagram and drawings. Images can be
        viewed with Adobe Acrobat.

    •   US Patent Office .
        This gives free access to the full text of US Patents since 1976. They are working on
        including older material. There is an additional service called PatentAlert which will search
        the US patent database and e-mail you when there are new entries which match your search
        profile. You have to register to use PatentAlert.

    •   European Patent Office.

    •   Delphion Intellectual Property Network.
        This is a commercial site aimed at people buying patents but it is possible to use their
        catalogue, which covers US, European and Japanese patents, without paying.

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                                                                                              LIS Guides: Patents

    •   World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

    •   National Patent Offices on the World Wide Web.

    •   The Derwent Glossary of Patent Terms and the Patent Glossary produced by the Minerals,
        Metals and Materials Society provide help with the terminology used in patents.

Other patent resources can be found by using web search tools, for example, EEVL and Yahoo! A
selection of these is available on the Searching the Web page.

UK patent office                 
Patent office databases          
US patent office                 
European patent office           
Delphion intellectual property network
World Intellectual Property Organization
National Patent offices          
Derwent glossary of patent terms 
Patent glossary                  
Searching the web page           

For more information contact the Science and Engineering Team.

Science & Engineering Team               

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