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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 a set of exclusive rights granted to an inventor or assignee by a sovereign state for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.

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.

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.

Useful Publications