How to Cite a Patent Application

By Lisa Magloff

A patent is a type of intellectual property right granted by the U.S. government. Patents allow inventors to prevent other people from copying or using their invention without compensation. Each patent is given a unique number by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If you are a researcher, lawyer or journalist, it may be necessary for you to cite patents in your work. The exact method for citation that you use will depend on where you are citing the patent. Different methods are used for legal citations, scientific citations and journalism.

Step 1

Cite patents in legal papers by analogy to the “Bluebook,” which provides guidelines on citation for lawyers. The Bluebook suggests patent citations should be listed by patent number and date of issue. For example: U.S. Patent No. 5,636,220 (issued Mar. 12, 2007).

Step 2

Use the American Chemical Society (ACS) Style Guide method of citation for citing patents in scientific papers. The ACS Style Guide recommends citing patents by name of patent holder, title, patent number and year of issue. For example: Smith, J. Widget for mounting wind turbines. U.S. Patent 5,636,220, 2007. Some science editors require use of the Council of Scientific Editors (CSE) Style Guide, rather than the ACS. The CSE offers two formats for citing patents. The name-date format includes inventor, date, title of patent, issuing country, patent number. For example: Smith, J., inventor; 2007 Mar. 12. Widget for mounting wind turbines. United States patent US 5,636,220. The citation-sequence format is patent holder, title, country issuing the patent, patent number, issue date. For example: Smith, J, inventor; Widget for mounting wind turbines. United States patent US 5,636,220. 2007 Mar. 12.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now

Step 3

Cite patents in newspapers and magazines using the AP Style Guide or the Chicago Manual of Style. Your editor will tell you which format to use. For AP style, the citation format is: Inventor. (Year). Patent Number. Source. For example: Smith, J. (2007). U.S. Patent No. 5,636,220. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Chicago Manual of Style format is: Inventor. Title. Patent number, year of filing. For example: Smith, J. Widget for mounting wind turbines. US Patent 5,636,220, filed June 16, 2005, and issued Mar. 12, 2007.

Step 4

Use the MLA style of patent citation when writing academic research papers. The manual does not specifically mention patents, but you can cite by analogy. The format should be Inventor. Title. Patent Number. Date. For example: Smith, J. Widget for mounting wind turbines. Patent 5,636,220. 12 Mar. 2007.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now
Examples of Patents
 

References

Related articles

DIY: How to File for a Non-Provisional Patent

A patent protects your right to use and profit from an invention. Many individuals and businesses retain patent attorneys or patent agents to represent them in the application process, especially if the technology is complex or litigation is likely. Absent these complicating factors, it is possible to file a patent application on your own. In the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the examination and approval of patent applications. A non-provisional patent is valid for the full patent term – in most cases 20 years.

How to Acquire a Patent

A patent is a legalized monopoly in favor of the patent holder. The patent holder owns the exclusive right to use, reproduce, and distribute the patented idea, process, product, or model. Acquiring a patent requires the filing of a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, called the "PTO" for short. The PTO reviews the patent application, typically requests amendments or further explanation, and then approves or denies the patent application. Generally, the PTO approves any patent application that meets the fundamental patent criteria of novelty and utility.

Difference Between Patent Approved & Patent Licensed?

A patent is a personal property right granted to an inventor under federal law through the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. To obtain a patent, the inventor must apply to the PTO for one. If the PTO approves the patent, the PTO issues a certificate of patent to the inventor. The holder of a patent may then license the patent to other users, granting them the right to use the patented idea or technology.

Start here. LegalZoom. Legal help is here. LLCs. Corporations. Patents. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Find a Patent Number

Patents are given to creators of original inventions. They are awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The ...

How to File a U.S. Patent for Free

A patent is a claim of exclusive ownership rights to a mechanical invention, process or an improvement of an existing ...

How to Find Out If Something Has Been Patented

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency responsible for reviewing applications and ...

Can You Ever Lose a Patent?

Patents provide legal protection for your unique ideas translated into inventions. This exclusive right to put an ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED