Glossary of Key Terms

This glossary is provided for the purpose of navigating the PatentsView platform tools and data. These are not official USPTO definitions of terms.

Application - An application filed with the USPTO to patent an invention. PatentsView includes all types of published patent applications except provisional applications. An application number is a unique number assigned to the patent application when it is filed and includes a two digit series code and a six digit serial number.

Assignee - The name of the entity—company, foundation, partnership, holding company or individual—that owns the patent.

At-Issue or Original Classification - The classification assigned to a patent at the time it is granted. This classification is also called the OR classification. It appears in bold on the face of a published patent at grant.

Cited patent - A patent is cited when it appears as a reference in another patent or patent application. The cited patent number is contained in the ‘references cited’ section of the document.

Citing patent - A patent that cites a patent or patent application as a reference in its 'references cited' section.

Claim - A patent claim states the subject-matter protected by the patent in technical language. The set of claims in a patent define the scope of its legal protection.

Co-inventor - A person who appears on the same patent or patent application as another inventor.

Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) - A hierarchical patent classification scheme developed through a joint partnership between the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO) to harmonize and replace each office’s individual classification system, the US Patent Classification (USPC) and the European Classification (ECLA). The USPTO formally launched the CPC system in January 2013.

Current Classification - The most recent CPC classification for a given patent, which is used to determine the most recent National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) category.

Design Patent - Design patents cover a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Disambiguation - The process of identifying the same entity (person, organization, etc.) across and between datasets, when there is no common system of entity identifiers.

Filing Date - The date a patent application was filed with the USPTO.

First Named Inventor - The first inventor listed on a patent application.

Grant Date - The date a patent was issued by the USPTO.

Independent Inventors - Inventors who "own" their own patents and do not assign title to the patent to another entity (e.g, company, foundation, partnership, or holding).

International Patent Classification (IPC) - The system of patent classifications published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Inventor - The individual who conceived the invention.

Kind - A code assigned by the USPTO to patents consisting of a letter, and in many cases a number, that distinguishes the kind of document (e.g., utility patent application publication, utility patent, plant patent application publication, plant patent, or design patent) and sequence of publication (e.g., first publication, second publication, or corrected publication).

Location, At-issue - The location for an inventor or assignee as recorded on a published patent grant or application.

Location, Most Recent - The location recorded on an inventor or assignee’s most recent patent in the PatentsView database. This data is determined by the results of the inventor and assignee disambiguation and is the default location setting for both inventors and assignees in the data visualization tool.

NBER Category - The patent technological categories/subcategories designed by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) as part of the patent database project (Hall, Jaffe, and Trajtenberg 2002). USPTO has generated an algorithm to assign NBER subcategories to US patents issued after 2006. For details, see

Patent - A property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States" for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

Patent Processing Time - The duration between a patent application filing date and grant date.

Plant Patent - Patents granted for the invention or discovery and asexual reproduction of a distinct and new variety of plant.

Title - The title of a patent.

Type - The type of patent document—utility, design, plant, reissue, defensive, and statutory invention registration—that offers different kinds of protection for distinct types of subject matter.

United States Patent Classification System (USPC) - The patent classification system used by the USPTO to classify and organize patent applications filed and patents granted in the United States. Every class has a unique alphanumeric identifier. A class/subclass pair of identifiers uniquely identifies a subclass within a class.

USPTO - The United States Patent and Trademark Office — An Agency in the US Department of Commerce responsible for matters related to intellectual property.

Utility Patent - Utility patents are issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement.