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Research Guides

Intellectual Property Resources

This guide outlines UTL patent and copyright supports for participants of the IP Education Program offered by University of Toronto Entrepreneurship.

Patent and IP resources @ UTL

On this page you will find links to patent and trademark offices, search tips, classifications, citation information, statistics, books, and tutorials on patent searching, designed to complement the U of T Entrepreneurship IP Education Program.


The patent-related information on this page is from the Engineering and Computer Science Library's online guide Introduction to Patents & Patent Searching.


UTL offers a workshop on Resources for Patents Research that is open to U of T students, faculty, staff, and startups. The workshop is offered approx. 1-2 times in an academic calendar year.


The U of T Scholarly Communication and Copyright Office consults with faculty and provides resources on Canadian copyright issues, including fair dealing and open access.


If you have questions about patent searching, please contact the Engineering and Computer Science Library or email Entrepreneurship Librarian Carey Toane.

Patent and Trademark Offices

Search Tips

To be most effective in your search for patents you must determine how your invention works, NOT how you will use your invention.

  • Start by making a list of words that describe your idea (including synonyms)
  • Record class/subclass of any related terms
  • Ask yourself:
    • What does the invention do?
    • What is the end result/anything unique/special/ unexpected? 
    • What is it made of/method or material of fabrication? 
    • What is it used for? 
  • Keep track of useful and non-useful patents (by patent number) to avoid duplication of efforts

Free online patent databases

Patent Classification

Patent Classification is a system of codes designed to organize and index the technical content of patents.


The following are a selection of useful free web resources to help you with your patent searching. UTL also has a selection of books to guide you through the process of patent searching (TCard required).

An excellent guide on patents and designs is available from Michael White at Queen's University, including strategies for finding patents by inventor or company, or related to a product.

OC Patent Lawyer has a guide to Conducting a Novelty Search.

CIPO's guide to patents includes tips on the patent process and how to interpret patent information.

USPTO offers a tutorial on How to conduct a preliminary U.S. Patent Search: A step-by-step strategy.

Two tutorials on U.S. Patent Searching from the University of Minnesota Libraries, Patents and Patentability and Patent Searching.

How to do a prior art search yourself -

USPTO Basics of Prior Art Searching guide

WIPO Magazine - Launching a new product: Freedom to operate

Citing Patents

Canadian Copyright Information

Books on Patent Searching