Patent Research Assignment

Submitted by Elizabeth Dobbins on May 6th, 2020
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Short Description: 

This assignment introduces students to United States patents and to prior art searching using two free, online databases: Espacenet and Instructional videos are available at:

This assignment is designed to be scalable so that it can be implemented at an introductory level in a first-year design course, and replicated in the senior design course. To scale the assignment, modify the number of resources students are required to analyze and intensify the synthesis/analysis components.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Students will be able to determine the patentability of their invention based on a nuanced understanding of United States utility patents and intellectual property.
  • Students will be able to conduct a sophisticated prior art search using Cooperative Patent Classifications.

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

This assignment was scaled for a first-year Foundations of Engineering Design course. As such, students were only required to analyze 6 patent documents in detail.

The assignment was developed in collaboration with Dr. Lee Rynearson, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Campbell University. 

Assessment or Criteria for Success
(e.g. rubric, guidelines, exemplary sample paper, etc.): 
Patent Research Log Rubric.pdfDownloaded 526 times56.77 KB
Suggested Citation: 
Dobbins, Elizabeth. "Patent Research Assignment." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2020.