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Materials Science

Information and resources for research in materials science and engineering.

Patent resources

How to find patents

1. Search by class

Patent "classes" are categories for technologies with shared characteristics. Searching by classification is more reliable than searching by keywords, which can miss relevant patents described with different language.

Strategy#1: use Google Patents statistics

  • Search Google Patents by keyword.
  • Look for the box Top 1000 results by filing date.
  • Click on CPCs.
  • Click on the link for the top-ranked 4-digit class.
Google Patents CPCs statistics


Strategy#2: use one patent to find others

  • Find a patent that is more or less relevant.
  • On the page for the patent document, find the Classifications heading.
  • Click on the link for the class that looks most relevant.

If necessary, verify the definition and scope of a (sub)class by looking it up on the USPTO website, selecting Definitions.

CPC subclass definition

2. Preliminary review

  • Start by reviewing the Title, Abstract and Images.

3. Detailed review.

  • Move on to the Description (a detailed description of the technology).
  • Then consider whether you should read the Claims (a statement of how the technology is unique and unprecedented).

4. Expand your search.

  • Identify additional possible (sub)classes and repeat your search.
  • Look for Patent citations: previous patents that this patent cites.
  • Look for Cited by: subsequent patents that cited this patent.

Google Patents vs USPTO

Google Patents and the USPTO's databases have different advantages. Use both to ensure a comprehensive search strategy.


Google Patents USPTO
All USPTO patent grants and published applications, except recent months All USPTO patent grants and published applications, updated weekly
Single database for grants and applications Separate databases for grants and applications
USPTO, EPO and WIPO patents USPTO patents only
Easy-to-use Google-style interface Complex interface for precise searching
Document searching for all patents Document searching 1976-present, index searching 1790-1975
Searches images with Optical Character Recognition Searches text (more reliable)
Displays documents as HTML and PDF Displays documents as PDF (may require reader installation)



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