The following titles provide guidance to inventors looking to protect their ideas. These books are written by lawyers for non-lawyers; legalize is kept to a minimum. Because the law has a tendency to change and evolve, it is best to use the most current resources possible. For example, U.S. patent law underwent major revisions effective 2011 due to the passage of the American Invents Act (AIA). Thus, any books predating the AIA likely contain major inaccuracies.
There are many tools available to help you search for Prior Arts documents.
To conduct a thorough, preliminary patent search, you'll need to go beyond searching by keyword. The USPTO and other international patent authorities have elaborate systems in place for classifying inventions. Using these classification systems will allow you to find relevant prior art that may have eluded your searches by keyword.
Because a search for a truly novel invention will come up empty (there is nothing to find), you need to know when to stop searching. When is enough searching enough? There is no perfect answer, but using a logical and organized search process will help you make that decision. The worksheet below may assist you. Feel free to make a copy and modify it to suit your search style.
The USPTO offers tutorial videos, guides and help for better patent searching.
The Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering's Mendenhall Innovation Center (http://engineering.unlv.edu/programs/mendenhall/about/) allows undergraduate students to earn a minor in entrepreneurship and design.
The UNLV Lee Business School's Center for Entrepeneurship (http://business.unlv.edu/entrepreneurship/Programs/) provides many resources and opportunities for co-curricular opportunities (contests, awards, etc.) that may be of interest to ME 497/498 students.