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Patents Guide Ask Us

Guide Sections

Introduction to Patents

What is a patent in Canada?

  • A patent is a legal document granted to you by the Government of Canada.
  • A patent confirms your exclusive right to your invention for up to 20 years!.
  • A patented invention can be a product, a composition, a machine, a process or an improvement to any of these.
  • A patent gives you a competitive edge since it can help protect your invention.
  • A patent can help prevent others from using your invention.
  • A patent can help negotiate financing options.
  • A patent can help license your invention to others.
  • A patent can ultimately be sold to other by the patent holder/owner.
  • Your invention can become a patent if it is new, useful and inventive.

Why search for patent literature?

  • To find out about the most recent inventions
  • Identify new research fronts
  • To study the development of a particular technology
  • To figure out licensing opportunities
  • To avoid duplication of research efforts and save time and resources
  • To learn how something works via patent diagrams and detailed descriptions
  • To find information on a company’s activities (new inventions and growth areas)
  • To identify experts in a given field
  • To gain protection for an idea or invention if it doesn’t already exist
  • Most firms/companies only disclose technical information regarding their products/technologies only in Patents

Challenges of Patent Literature: 

  • Patents don't describe inventions as they appear in the market (for example: patents don't include product names).
  • Patents may cover broader concepts and they don't specify the final packaging, detailing, manufacturing processes, trademarked names, and other aspects of products.
  • As a result of this, searching patents by names of products, rarely provides a direct path to the invention in question. 
  • Final product names are often determined long after patents are filed (trademarks rather than patents protect product names). 
  • In addition, the final product may be an amalgamation of several patents.  
  • Patents can be difficult to read as they are legal documents and usually written with many legal jargon.
  • Some patents lack specifications, technical standards, or other types of descriptive content.
  • While patent applications are subject to examination by patent examiners, they do not employ a peer-review scientific process. As such, patents are not required to demonstrate a proof of success through experiments and processes usually associated with scientific research.


Canadian Intellectual Property Office - CIPO. (2020). Patents.  Retrieved from:

MIT Libraries. (2020). Patents Guide. Retrieved from:

  • Saran Croos
  • Saran Croos
  • I am on sabbatical leave until July 1, 2024. For assistance, please contact or
  • Engineering & Computer Science Librarian
  • UNB Fredericton

Subject Specialties:
Engineering, Computer Science

Last modified on April 20, 2024 19:43