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Patent Law: Primary Sources

Updated June 11, 2014.
Prepared by Shannon Malcolm, Law Librarianship Intern; updated by Jonathan Germann, Law Librarianship Intern (2014).

This guide identifies selected print and online, free and commercial sources useful to patent law researchers. For information on searching for patents themselves, see the guides provided by the UW Engineering Library, which is a patent depository.

See also the Gallagher companion guide Patent Law: Secondary Sources.

WestlawNext, Bloomberg Law, and Lexis Advance are available only to subscribers who have individual IDs or passwords. Bloomberg BNA and HeinOnline are available to University of Washington students, faculty, and staff and to visitors of the Gallagher Law Library. [UW Restricted]


The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to create patent law.

U.S. Const., art. I, § 8, cl. 8; Section 8
"The Congress shall have power . . . To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries . . . .


Title 35 of the U.S. Code deals with Patents. All of the sources below include the current code. Some of them (marked with an asterisk *) also include some early versions of the Code.

ServiceSource Availability
Bloomberg BNA Intellectual Property Laws UW Restricted
Bloomberg Law Title 35 Individuals with passwords
Cornell Legal Information Institute Title 35 Free
FDsys United States Code * Free
Lexis Advance USCS - Title 35 *
Individuals with passwords
U.S. Code, U.S. Code Annotated, U.S. Code Service KF62 at Reference Area (current edition) & Classified Stacks (previous editions) Free
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Title 35 Free
Westlaw Next U.S. Code Annotated * Individuals with passwords

See also the Gallagher guide on U.S. Laws.



Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations deals with Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights. Sections dealing specifically with patents appear at 37 C.F.R. 1-150, 401-404, and 501.

ServiceSourceCoverage Availability
Bloomberg Law Patent Regulations Current Individuals with passwords
Code of Federal Regulations KF70 at Reference Area (current edition)
Compact Stacks (previous editions) Free
Cornell Legal Information Institute
Title 37 Current Free
FDsys Code of Federal Regulations
1996 -
HeinOnline Code of Federal Regulations 1938 - UW Restricted
Lexis Advance Code of Federal Regulations Current Individuals with passwords
WestlawNext Intellectual Property Regulations Current Individuals with passwords

See also the Gallagher guides on U.S. Administrative Law Research: Rules & Regulations and U.S. Rules & Regulations.


Case Law

Because the law governing patents is federal law, federal courts decide patent cases.

ServiceSourceContents Availability
Bloomberg BNA United States Patent Quarterly (USPQ) Cases from federal courts and several administrative agencies UW Restricted
Bloomberg Law All Patent Court Decisions Search or filter by court, judge, or topic Individuals with passwords
Lexis Advance Patent Cases from Federal Courts Cases from federal courts beginning from 1982 Individuals with passwords
United States Patent Quarterly KF2975.A2U54 at Compact Stacks Cases from federal courts from 1997-2006 Free
Westlaw Next Federal Patent Cases Cases from federal courts beginning from 1800
Individuals with passwords


Administrative Decisions

Several federal government agencies are authorized to make decisions concerning patents. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board hears appeals "from adverse decisions of examiners in patent applications, reissue applications, and reexamination proceedings."

ServiceSourceContents Availablility
Bloomberg Law Combined Decisions Patent Trial and Appeal Board and Commissioner for Patents decisions Individuals with passwords
Lexis Advance:
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Decisions, Combined U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Decisions Individuals with passwords
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Final Decisions -- Commissioner for Patents Organized by topic (accelerated examination, maintenance fees, etc.) Free
U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board Patent and Trademark Office Decisions Final, informative, and precedential decisions and opinions Free
WestlawNext Patent and Trademark Office Decisions Patent Trial and Appeal Board Decisions Individuals with passwords


Foreign & International Sources Primary Sources

Here are a few selected sources for patent law beyond the United States.

World Intellectual Property Organization, Patent Law Treaty.
K1503.32.A2 2000 at Classified Stacks

Patent Cooperation Treaty (1970) and Regulations: With Administrative Instructions.
K1503.3.P37A2 1981 at Classified Stacks

WestlawNext: European Patent Office Reports.
Covers cases from the European Union's Patent Office from 1979 - .

WestlawNext: United Kingdom Reports of Patent Cases.
Contains "[d]ecisions, judgments, and orders from the United Kingdom Patent Office and U.K. courts." Covers from 1977 - .


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