Patent research is an exciting way to learn about recent inventions and cutting-edge technologies. In this module, you will learn what patents are, how to read patents, and how to find information in them. You will also acquire strategies to search for patents and understand why and how you can use patent classification schemes for patent searching.

Modes of Learning

In this module, you will use the following modes of learning:

  • Videos and short assessments
  • An activity in which you practice locating information in a patent
  • An activity in which you practice searching for patents

This module will take approximately 35 minutes to complete.

 Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to…

  • Describe what a patent is and how patents can be used in engineering research
  • Locate needed information in a patent
  • Employ strategies for searching for patents using a patent search tool
  • Explain the value of using patent classification schemes to search for patents

 Key Terms & Concepts

  • Intellectual property
  • Patent
  • Inventor
  • Assignee or owner
  • Drawings
  • Claims
  • Specification
  • Patent search
  • Patent classification

 Topic 1: Introduction to Patents

This first video is an introduction to patents. You will learn about what intellectual property is, what patents are, criteria for patentability in Canada, and some of the ways patents can help researchers.

Watch Introduction to Patents in full screen.


 Topic 2: Reading a Patent

In this next video, you will learn about the different parts of a patent and how to read one.

Watch Reading a Patent in full screen.


Use US 9,197,091 B2, a patent for Charge Rate Optimization, to answer the questions below.

 Topic 3: Searching for Patents

In this third video, you will learn how to search for patents. You will be introduced to various patent offices and tools for conducting searches. You will also learn how to use various strategies to search for patents.

Watch Searching for Patents in full screen.


Use PatentScope to conduct searches for the questions below.

 Topic 4: Patent Classification

In this video, you will learn about patent classification and how patents are organized so that they can be easily found by patent offices, researchers, companies, and the general public.

Watch Patent Classification in full screen.



This module introduced you to patents as a form of intellectual property and a useful source for engineering research. You practiced reading a patent and finding needed information. You also learned about some different tools you can use to search for patents, and some approaches to searching for patents such as keyword searching, searching by title, patent number, inventor, or owner, and searching with patent classification codes.

Icon for references References

[1] Government of Canada, “Archived – A guide to patents – Canadian Intellectual Property Office.” (accessed Aug. 11, 2021).

[2] Government of Canada, “What is a patent?” (accessed Aug. 11, 2021).

[3] Recommendation concerning bibliographic data on and relating to patents and SPCS, ST.9, World Intellectual Property Office, June 2013. [Online.] Available:

[4] World Intellectual Property Office. “Guide to the International Patent Classification.” (accessed Aug. 11, 2021).

[5] World Intellectual Property Office. “What is intellectual property?” (accessed Aug. 11, 2021).

[6] World Intellectual Property Office. “WIPO Guide to Using Patent Information.” (accessed Aug. 11, 2021).

Icon for additional resources Additional Resources

Understanding Patents

Patent Search Tools


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Engineering and Information: Research Skills for Engineers Copyright © by Katie Harding, Alanna Carter, Shelir Ebrahimi, and Eva Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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