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Google has an agreement with the USPTO to provide patent products to the public at no charge. Most students will find Google Patents easier to use than the USPTO database. I've seen reports that there are "holes" in the Google Patents database and that it might not always have the latest patents.
The SciFinder database (Chemical Abstracts) has records for thousands of patents - many new chemicals are first described in patents. You can search using chemical structures, registry numbers, and other specialized search fields. Cal Poly Pomona students, faculty, and staff only.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
The U.S. Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency that grants patents and registers trademarks. Useful and interesting information on the USPTO website includes: