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Finding Patents

Terms and Definitions

Some terms used in this module are defined in this glossary. The quotes below are from unless otherwise specified. All the definitions are in regards to US patents.


abandoned patent (invention or application)
"... [an] application ... is removed from the office docket of pending applications."
application number
"unique number assigned to a patent application when it is filed."
"... recipient of a transfer of a patent application, patent, ... from its owner, or applicant, of record (assignor)."


" a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye." from Mayo Clinic
distance around a shape or cross-section of a 3D object that is a circle or circle-like
"defines the invention ... [by] particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as [their] invention or discovery." It must use the same language as in the invention description, so it is understood by a reader.
Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC)
"a joint partnership between USPTO and EPO to harmonize the existing classification systems."
"protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed."


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


European Patent Office
"no longer [protected] due to the termination of its patent term or for failure to timely pay a maintenance fee."


filing date
"... date of receipt in the [USPTO] office of an application." It depends on the type of patent and during which time period it was filed as to what sections much be submitted.


grant date
see publication date


helical spring
is one of the most common springs with various applications. Image that you had a cylinder with a particular radius. You take a wire and wrap it around the cylinder, then remove it. It would look like a helical spring. Its behavior is to store and release energy.


intellectual property
"creations of the mind—creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them. There are four ways to protect intellectual property: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and/or trade secrets."
International Class (IC)
"numbered class within the international system for classifying goods and services."
"art or process (way of doing or making things), machine, manufacture, design, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, or any variety of plant, which is or may be patentable under the patent laws of the United States."
individual(s) that create or discover the invention.
issue date
see publication date


"permission to take certain actions that would otherwise be unlawful or infringing."


maintenance fees
fees to be paid to the USPTO to keep a patent active.


parlor games
"game suitable to play indoors." from
"property right granted by the [US] government ... to an inventor ... [it] exclude[s] others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention." It is enforceable in the US "for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted."
patent application publication
18 months from the priority date on the application.
patent family
"is the same invention disclosed by a common inventor(s) and patented in more than one country."
patent infringement
"unauthorized making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the United States any patented invention."
patent number
"unique identification number assigned to a patent application when it issues as a patent."
"suitable to be patented; entitled by law to be protected by the issuance of a patent."
plant patent
"may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant."
prior art
"is any evidence that your invention is already known." from
primary examiner
"patent examiner who is fully authorized to sign office actions making patentability determinations."
publication date
related terms: date of patent, grant date, issue date
"date a patent is issued by the USPTO."


radio button
are buttons in a group, where you can only pick one. In a software application or a webpage, they are usually round buttons by convention.


is a brand name for a helical spring toy developed by Richard James in 1943. His patent is US 2,415,012 and was granted in 1947. Slinkys are still made today.


"any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies the source of goods or services. Businesses and individuals use trademarks with their goods or services so that customers recognize them in the marketplace and distinguish them from competitors."


US Patent Classification (USPC)
original US patent classification before CPC was developed in 2013.
United States Patent & Trademark Office
utility patent
"may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new, useful, and nonobvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof."