Patent Tips from the J. Willard Marriott Library

Here is a handy set of patent tips from the team at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah:

Three Patent Types

There are three types of patents. What kind of patent is best for your idea or prototype?:

  1. Utility patents – Granted for a process; machine or manufacture; composition of matter; or an improvement thereof. Utility patents have sequential numbers. Ex 10,xxx,xxx
  2. Design patents – Protects the new, ornamental design (i.e. “outward appearance”) for an article of manufacture. Design patent numbers are preceded by the letter “D.”
  3. Plant patents – Granted for distinct and new variety of an asexually reproduced plant.
    Plant patent numbers are preceded by “PP.” 

Develop Keywords

Describe your idea or prototype. Think broadly about terms. How would someone outside of your field describe it? Remember to link terms with Boolean operators such as AND, OR. For tips, see this guide from the Patent & Trademark Resource Center Program


Search for patents, go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office site.

First, search with your keywords in both PatFT (granted patents) & AppFT (applications published after 18 months):

  • You can also search by patent number, company names (assignee name), and inventor.
  • Once you find a relevant patent, determine the best classification for your technology (CPC). Then, Re-do a search by classification number, which will retrieve other relevant technologies.

Example: 8973946 is a granted patent for a ski pole created by a local inventor, Alex Carr of CharPoles.

Meet with a Librarian

Marriott Library is the Patent Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) for the entire state of Utah. Contact Tallie Casucci or Alfred Mowdood  for more help. See our guide at

About the Author:

Alfred Mowdood Alfred Mowdood is a librarian with over 20 years of experience at the University of Utah. Since 2017, he is the Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) Representative for the State of Utah. Read faculty bio here. Learn more at

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