How to Cite a Patent

How to cite a patent or patent application when you are writing an article or research paper will vary based on the style manual you choose to use.

It is important to know which citation format you should be using so that you don’t omit pertinent, essential information from your notation. Be sure to check with your instructor, editor, or publisher to clarify this information when you begin writing.

Patent Numbers

Make sure that you include in your citation the stage that a patent is currently in, for example, whether it is a patent or a patent application. Also be certain that the pattern of the patent number, whether it be with dashes, spaces, or commas, follows that of the original patent document.

Patent numbers in the United States are always written using commas – U.S. Patent number 6,555,655, for example. When citing the patents of owners from other countries, always express the patent number as it is indicated on the patent of origin.

There are four elements to include when referencing a patent. You must include:

  • The inventor’s name, or who was issued the patent,
  • In what year the issuance of the patent was granted,
  • The patent number, or other patent identifier, and
  • The official source where you the patent information from – this is typically the name of the patent office.

There are several ways to cite a patent by using different style guides such as the ACS style guide, the APA style guide, the AMA Manual of Style, the Chicago Manual of Style, and many more.

ACS Style Guide

The American Chemical Society, or ACS, style guide is used for research papers in the field of chemistry. Each citation has two parts:

  • A citation in-text briefly providing identifying information in the text, and
  • The reference list, a source list providing full bibliographic information.

How to Cite a Patent in APA Style

APA style is a format for academic documents such as journal articles and books. It is catalogued within the style guide of the American Psychological Association, or APA, and is titled “The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.”

Chicago Manual of Style

The format for citing a patent reference using the Chicago Manual of Style would be to include:

  • The title of the patent,
  • The inventor’s name,
  • The number of the patent, and
  • The filing year.

CSE Style Guide

The Council of Science Editors, or CSE, style guide is a scientific style of documentation used for the natural sciences, including biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Similar to the Chicago Manual of Style, there are two ways to document sources, using either a citation/sequence system or a name/year system.

The citation/sequence format follows this format: Author(s), inventors; patent holder; the patent title; which country issued the patent; the country code patent number; and the date of publication. The name/date format follows essentially the same format.

MLA style

The Modern Language Association, or MLA, style guide is a system for documenting sources in scholarly writing. It is used worldwide by scholars, journal publishers, and academic and commercial presses. This style manual does not specifically mention how to cite a patent, but MLA recommends that patents be cited as if they are a contribution within a journal.

From Sticky Notes to Microprocessors: Patent Citations and References

Psychologists use anything from sticky notes to advanced computer software and hardware. Patent documents provide detailed information regarding the operation and look of a lot of these systems.

APA style can be beneficial to use when adding to your work data from patent documents.

You can search databases at intellectual property agencies like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to gather patent document information. To gather information on alternative intellectual property agencies, check the Member States page on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Once patent information has been located, then you can create a reference and citation for a patent using APA Style.

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