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Michigan State University

Patents and Patent Information at the MSU Libraries: General Patent Information

Guide to US and international patent resources.

What is a patent?

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. 

Types of patents

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. Here is the process for obtaining a utility patent. 

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

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

Useful Publications

General Patent Information

Please note:

  • MSU Libraries does not collect the full text of patents in any format.
  • U.S. patent and trademark depository libraries have U.S. patent collections and can provide some assistance with searching patents. many also have non-U.S. patent collections.
  • MSU libraries staff cannot provide legal advice or assistance in patent filing.

United States Patent Office
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides information, publications, forms, guides and services on searching and registering for patents and trademarks. See in particular:

Michigan State University Patent Policy

Michigan State University Technologies Office helps facilitate commercial development of technologies and copyrightable materials developed by MSU faculty and staff. Their office provides support documents and staff to assist researchers with filing patents, licensing their technology, and other tasks.

Michigan State University