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An introduction to patents: what they are, the benefits of including them in your research, where and how to search for them, and the patent application process.

Some Guidelines

Whenever you're referencing a patent within a document, they must be cited like any other resource. While the format may vary depending on the citation style you've chosen, a patent citation will allow your reader to note all of the basic information (title, inventor, date, patent status) so that they are able to find it on their own. Providing accurate information in a patent's citation will allow readers to distinguish between it and other similar patents. Make sure you cite the right version.

If you are unable to locate instructions for citing patents using a specific citation style, use the style's guidelines for journal articles.

Always cite the primary source where you found the patent (usually the official patent office such as CIPO, WIPO, etc.). You will also want to indicate where you found the patent if you discovered it through a secondary source (such as a book).

Most Patent Citations Require: Examples:
Patent number 8937591
Patent title Systems and Methods for Counteracting a Perceptual Fading of a Moveable Indicator
Country where patent was issued U.S.
Year 2012
Inventor(s) and/or Applicant(s) David P. Julian

Exporting Patent Information into a Citation Manager

Most patent databases don't provide an export feature or any option to automatically extract data. Citation managers such as Zotero that do basic "grabs" for information aren't always successful with patents because there is a lack of metadata available.

If you do decide to use a citation manager to collect patent information, always double check the results against the original information in the patent itself.

The following databases provide options for exporting patent citations:

  • Free Patents Online (to BiBTeX and EndNote)
  • LexisNexis Patents (in RIS format for import into various citation managers)
  • Lens (in RIS format for import into various citation managers)
  • Google Patents (to BiBTeX and EndNote)
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