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Obtaining Copies of U.S. Patents

In order to obtain a copy of a U.S. patent, you must first know the patent number. If you do not know of a specific patent, see Searching for Pre-1976 Patents or Patent Searching on the Internet.

1. Go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Web Patent Database. This search screen is for patent number searching.  

2. Enter the patent number of interest in the search box. Be sure to include any letters that are part of the patent number. Click the search button or hit "enter." Commas are not necessary. For example:  
(a design patent)
           PP8901   (a plant patent)
           X501      (a patent issued before 1836)

3. If the patent is issued after 1975 a full-text version of the patent will be displayed. This version allows you to read the text of the patent and link to the full text of older patents that were used in the research for this patent. This version also includes a "Referenced By" link which allows you to determine if this patent was used in later patents. This is valuable to bring your research more up-to-date. This version does not include the drawings. To view the drawings and the text click on the "Images" button in the center of the header.

If the patent is issued before 1976 then it will only display the patent number and patent classification numbers. You must use the image version of the patent. Click on the 'Images" button in the center of the header. 

4. To view the image version, it is necessary to have a TIFF viewer loaded on your computer. Go to the USPTO help page for information and free software to download on your PC. To print each page, click the printer button that appears towards the upper left on your screen. You must print and view one page at a time using the TIFF software. 

Internet Sites providing PDF's of U.S. Patents: Need Adobe Acrobat software. Allows you to print entire patent with one command and save or email the entire document.

  • Free Patents Online Provides access to U.S. patents from number 4,000,000 to the present.
  • Patents on Cloud 8. Charge is $0.49 per patent. They provides patents from many countries and will send them zipped together in PDF format.

High quality copies of the full patent images are also available at the Fogler Library using the Cassis workstation. We have patent images on DVDrom for 1790 to the present. The Cassis software and the DVDrom's allow printing of the entire patent with one command. This is much more efficient for long patents than using the USPTO web database where you can only view and print one page at a time.

Return to the Fogler Library Patent and Trademark Resource Center homepage.

For more information, contact:
Martin Wallace
Science and Engineering Center
Patent and Trademark Depository
Raymond H. Fogler Library
Orono, Maine 04469-5729 
Phone: 207-581-1678

Created by: Martin Wallace | Revised: 12/23/2014

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University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
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The University of Maine
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