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Patent Law: A Beginner's Guide

Statutes and Regulations

While the basic right of the federal government to grant patents can be found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, much of the current law regarding the patent process can be found in federal statutes, regulations, and case law. As we have noted in other Beginner’s Guides, free digital copies of federal statutes, as printed in the United States Code, and federal regulations, as printed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), can be found at the Government Publishing Office’s govinfo website. Most federal statutes regarding patents can be found in Title 35 of the United States Code, while most federal regulations regarding patents can be found in Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

In addition to the regulations found in the CFR, researchers might be interested in the patent application itself, as well as communications from the USPTO, specifically the determinations made by USPTO patent examiners (sometimes called the “prosecution history” or the “file wrapper”). The USPTO offers many online services for searching patent applications and prosecution histories, among other documents, both on its “Search for Patents” website, and its “Patent Online Services” website.


Online Resources Referenced


Selected Print Resources

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.