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Research Guide for Materials Science: Patents

Key resources

Guide to Patent Information click here to see a complete guide to sources of patent information.

About patents

 What is a Patent?

 A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.  In order to be patentable, the invention must fulfill certain conditions. (FAQs, WIPO)


Information about patents is available from national Patent Offices, which register grant applications, process them using specified procedures and grant patents. Registered applications go through a lenthy procedure before becoming approved and published. Once published, patents are an intellectual property of the creator(s), and are legally protected.

Patents are particularly relevant if they can be used for commercial purposes or inductrial production.

An example of a patent: registring a procedure for chemical synthesis of compounds that may have therapeutic use; inventions that improve technical characteristics of an engine.  

Patents must be original and must be kept confidential to be pantentable. Once the patent is granted they become publically available. Patents have an expiry date and can be renewed for up to 20 years (UK).  

Disclaimer: We take no responsibility for the content of external web sites, or any legal issues associated with the use of free databases.


Need advice?

The University of Oxford has a spin-out company called Isis Innovation Limited that can provide advice and further information to researchers thinking about patenting their research.

Subject Guide

Ljilja Ristic's picture
Ljilja Ristic
Radcliffe Science Library
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Oxford OX1 3QP
+44(0)1865 272816