Patent of Invention Applications at Library and Archives Canada

A patent of invention application (for a patent) is a document that usually includes “an abstract, a specification, and drawings.” This type of application is important as it often becomes the official patent document once it is approved. Like the patent process itself, the structure of and type of information in each application is highly regulated. Here’s an overview of what Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds in terms of patent applications. A subsequent blog post will detail the steps to follow when searching for a specific application.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office fonds is one of the first places to look if you’re trying to get an idea of what LAC holds in terms of patents. You’ll find relevant holdings in the Patent Branch and the Industrial Design Division series within that fonds. Both series encompass the pre- and post-Confederation periods and include documentation that demonstrates the various stages of the patent application process. Please note that many of these are searchable through the Canadian Patents, 1869–1919 database.

For example, here is a patent for improvements to a tea and coffee pot. You’ll notice that the document includes detailed technical illustrations (Figures 1 to 3) as well as the name of the inventor and the signatures of witnesses.

A black-and-white reproduction of three detailed illustrations of a tea and coffee pot from a patent application.

Patent application for an improved tea and coffee pot, by John Trott, 1870 (Patent Application Number 345)

LAC also holds records that group patent applications by industry, field or creator. For example:

If you’re not sure where to start looking, you can always try the private fonds of an individual inventor (usually denoted by MG) or look within specific government fonds, such as those described above (usually denoted by RG). If you have a suggestion of what patent applications to focus on in our next blog post, please let us know!

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