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Patent Law Research Guide: Introduction

Introduction to Patent Law Research

Patent law allows inventors to benefit from their innovations by granting them an exclusive right to use the invention for a period of time.  Federal patent law grants protection to federally registered patents, but inventors may also seek protection by registering patents for international/foreign protection.

Patent law research involves primary legal sources such as statutes, cases, and administrative law.  Additionally, legislative history research can be necessary to ascertain the legislative intent behind particular statutory language.

In most instances, it is best to begin your research with a review of secondary sources and practice aids such as research guides, background materials, treatises, and law review articles. Secondary sources help you frame your questions before you begin researching "the law" and often provide references to primary sources, rules, or forms. Also, practice aids are helpful for learning about U.S. Patent & Trademark Office procedure and how to write patent applications. 

This guide is designed to point out the best sources available for patent law research at BU.  Some of the resources are free Internet sources, but many are subscription services available to members of the BU Law community.  Where possible, this guide will link to other guides which can provide even more detail or resources on a particular subject. 

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The following videos include sound.  Click the accompanying images to begin learning about each of these research tasks!

Find a Patent by Number

Find Patents by Classification

Find Decisions from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board by Application Number

Learn Patent Office Rules & Procedures

Find Patent Trial and Appeal Board Decisions by Topic

Find Patent Regulations

Table of Contents

I.  Introduction

II. Secondary Sources

  • Special Collections of IP Resources
  • Patent Research Sources: Print & Online
  • Finding Law Journal Articles
  • Study Aids for Patent & IP Law
  • Patent Law News: Keeping Up with New Developments
  • Patent Law Blogs

III.  Practice Aids

  • Books about Patent Law Practice
  • Finding Patent Forms
  • USPTO Manuals, Guides, and Resources
  • Patent Statistics

IV.   Statutes & Legislative History

  • Federal Patent Statutes
  • Compiled Federal Legislative Histories at BU
  • Tracking Legislation
  • Finding Other Legislative History Information

V.    Decisions & Regulations

  • Patent Regulations: C.F.R. & Fed Register
  • Federal Patent Cases & Agency Decisions
  • Tracking the USPTO
  • Bluebook Rules for Citing USPTO Materials

VI.   Patent Searching

  • Books on Patent Searching
  • Searching for Patents and Patent Applications
  • Official Gazette for Patents

VII.  Process for Obtaining a Utility Patent

VIII. Foreign & International Law

  • International Patent Resources
  • Treaties on Patents
  • Foreign Law Patent Research
  • Keeping Current on International Patent Issues
  • Books for International and Foreign Research

    Subject Guide

    Jenna Fegreus