Michael Jackson's 1993 patent for "Anti-Gravity Shoes"
A patent is the grant of property by the U.S. Government to an inventor for a product via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. There are different types of patents and each will warrant a specified, standardized multi-year term in which the inventor can continue to claim ownership.
Under Article I, Section 8 of the constitution, Congress has the power to promote and defend the exclusive rights of individuals who invent materials or resources by enacting laws to secure those rights for a specific and standardized time period. Congress has created patent laws regarding revisions and, most recently, the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 which further protects the exclusive rights of inventors.
Patent law is regarding the means by which a patent is obtained and what is required of the inventor. the United States Patent and Trademark Office administers all patent law.
Searching Full Text Patents (Since 1976)
The patent classification scheme is based on the content of the patent by technical fields. The reasoning for this is because searching patents with keywords is less accurate in that it doesn't account for synonyms or alternate spellings. While Boolean searching might solve this issue, it would be only a partial advantage as the database of patents is so expansive. Also, the patent documents themselves don't often contain a lot of text, the documents are focused on images, so using a search system based on words is not advantageous.
Classification symbols are structured as follows:
Classification symbols are not case-sensitive. There are no spaces or blanks. Boolean search functions like wildcards do not work when searching for patents.
The Cooperative Patent Classification system began in 2013, and it's purpose is to revise and reclassify documents to promote a smarter and more efficient search system. This system is developed and carried out by both the EPO and the USPTO. The CPC is now the EPO's primary classification schema. The primary difference between the CPC and the IPC is that there is a section entitled the "y section" which is used for noting emerging technologies.
The CPC website has more information