When people think of patents, they usually think of the drawings that show how a product is designed or made. For example, here is part of a patent of a new type of snowboard from Denver’s Never Summer Industries.
However, they really are more than that. This system stimulates the economy, and it encourages inventors and designers to publish their findings. Inventions can be patented in a wide variety of fields from engineering, chemistry, biology, construction, business methods, computer science and much more.
Historians can also take a look at the patent literature to see how ideas and products have changed over time. Did you know President Abraham Lincoln has a patent?
If you would like to know more about how to find patents, please take a look at this Good Answers blog post.
Here is the official definition – “A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor ‘to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States’ for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.” (From the USPTO.)
Science & Engineering Librarian