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a guide to patents and innovation

Patent Self-help Books

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. 

Searching for Prior Art

There are many tools available to help you search for Prior Arts documents. 

Classification Searching

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.  

Tracking Your Search

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.

Helpful U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Tools

The USPTO offers tutorial videos, guides and help for better patent searching.

UNLV Resources for Intellectual Property and Business StartUps

The Technology Development and Transfer Office and the Office of Economic Development can assist with the process of taking an invention to market.

The Small Business Development Center ( can provide information to entrepreneurs and help navigate the planning and setup of new small businesses.

The Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering's Mendenhall Innovation Center (  allows undergraduate students to earn a minor in entrepreneurship and design. 

The UNLV Lee Business School's Center for Entrepeneurship ( provides many resources and opportunities for co-curricular opportunities (contests, awards, etc.) that may be of interest to ME 497/498 students.

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