How to Cite a Patent

Rich Goldstein

Founder & Principal Patent Attorney
Man pointing to a particular section of a document to his coworker

Citing a patent might sound challenging, and you’re not alone if you’re unsure where to even begin. I’ve been there too, learning how to successfully navigate the intricacies of patent citations. 

In this article, I’ll share my expert experience and guide you through the process on how to cite a patent effectively.

How to Cite a Patent

How you cite a patent is essentially determined by the format you will follow. You must choose the correct style guide to ensure you do not overlook any crucial data and information. When you start writing your citation, it is recommended you clarify this information with your instructor, editor, and publisher, if applicable.

The formats available to cite a patent in are:

  • ACS
  • AMA
  • APA
  • Chicago
  • CSE
  • IEEE
  • MLA
Book opened to a page full of text

The information and data you will need to successfully cite a patent includes:

  • The name or names of the patent owners (inventors or employers)
  • The patent or patent identifier 
  • The patent date (typically, when the patent was granted or the filing date of the application)
  • Where the patent information was sourced

You may also need to indicate the stage of the patent (whether it’s pending or been granted). Moreover, the pattern of the patent number must adhere to the same pattern as seen in the original patent document (i.e., dashes, commas). 

ACS (American Chemical Society)

The ACS style format is generally followed by those working on academic studies associated with chemistry. An ACS citation consists of two components:

  • In-text displaying identifiable data or information within the patent text
  • A source list, referencing a complete bibliography

ACS 3rd Edition Patent Citation Example

In-Text Citation:

(Johnson US Patent 1,123,456 B2)

Bibliography/References Section:

Johnson, J. W. US Patent 1,123,456 B2, [Year of Issue]

AMA (American Medical Association)

To cite a patent in an AMA style, you will need to include the following:

  • The name of the inventor(s)
  • The name of the assignee
  • A description of the patent or title of patent (not in italics)
  • The number assigned to the patent
  • The date of the patent’s publication

AMA 11th Edition Patent Citation Example

Lever AB and George CD – names of the inventors

Method and Apparatus for Data Encryption – title of the patent

US Patent 0,123,456 – the patent number

September 1, 2020 – the publication date of the patent

APA (American Psychological Association)

Academic papers, including books and articles, use the APA format to cite patents. For the 7th edition (each style format has various editions) of APA citation, the following guidelines need to be met:

  • The name of the inventor(s)
  • The year the patent was issued
  • The title of the patent (a description if no title is available – in italics)
  • The patent number
  • The issuing body title/name
  • If applicable and available, the URL

APA 7th Edition Patent Citation Example

Thomas, D. J. (2017). Method and apparatus for data encryption (U.S. Patent No. 6,123,456). [URL]


To cite a patent following the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), you will need to include:

  • The inventor(s) name(s)
  • The title of the patent
  • The number of the patent
  • The year the patent application was filed 

Chicago 17th Edition Patent Citation Example

Jones, P. D., and Cook, A. S. “Data Privacy System Using Cryptographic Techniques.” U.S. Patent 8,123,456, July 31, 2008.

CSE (The Council of Science Editors)

To cite a patent using the CSE style guide (for use with natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, geology, and physics), you can report sources in two ways:

  • The name/year format 
  • The citation/sequence format

Both formats require the following information:

  • Name of author(s)
  • Name of inventor(s)
  • Name of patent holder and/or assignee
  • The name /title of the patent
  • The country that issued the patent, including the country code patent number (include commas)
  • The patent’s publication date (Year/Month/Day)

CSE 8th Edition Patent Citation Example

Lawrence, JD, Doe, J.A. Secure Messaging System with End-to-End Encryption. US Patent 9,123,456. June 10, 2021.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

The IEEE citation style does not have editions in the same manner as others. Nevertheless, the following guidelines should be followed to cite a patent using the IEEE style format:

  • Name(s) of inventor(s) with first name or initials and surname (periods and spaces for first and middle names)
  • The patent’s title
  • The US patent number (keep spacing; do not use commas)
  • The patent’s publication date (Month, Day, Year)
Man pointing to a particular section of a document to his coworker

IEEE Patent Citation Example

J. R. Smith and J. A. Doe, “Efficient Data Encryption Scheme for Network Communication,” U.S. Patent 2,123,456, December 30, 2019

MLA (The Modern Language Association)

If you wish to cite various materials and sources for scholarly text, the MLA style guide should be followed. Currently, there are no references to patents in the MLA handbook. However, the general guidelines are as follows:

  • Inventor(s) name(s) – These are written in inverted order (surname followed by the first name in full, and finally the initial of the middle name, if applicable)
  • The patent’s title/name
  • The patent’s number
  • The issuing agency
  • The date the patent was issued (Day/Month/Year)

MLA Patent Citation Example

Doe, Jane K. US 1,234,567, Cryptographic Key Management Method for Data Security, United States Patent and Trademark Office, 10 August 2020

Additional Questions

Why Is It Important to Cite Patents in Research Papers?

It is important to cite patents in research papers because it provides due credit for the inventors. As well as this, citing patents also provides a source to explore further information about the innovation, and establishes prior art

How Do You Find the Patent Number and Other Patent Information?

You can find the patent number and other patent information on a patent document, issued by the USPTO. Another method is to research online patent databases that are provided by various patent offices

Can You Cite Patents From Countries Other Than the United States?

You can cite patents from countries other than the United States. You just need to include the appropriate country code before inputting the patent number (i.e., EP for European patents), and follow the citation style guidelines for that country.


To cite patents, you must acknowledge the inventors and provide essential patent details. By following the citation guidelines set out above, you can cite all types of patents, whether they are utility patents or provisional patents when required.

Is it Time to Protect Your Ideas?

Book your FREE Idea Protection Strategy Call

Join over 10,000 others who have asked us to help protect their best ideas and inventions.

Do You Have Intellectual Property (IP) You Need To Protect?

Your FREE Strategy Call is a pressure-free, no obligation way to get all your questions answered.
Goldstein Patent Law patiently listens to you, and then explains your options so you don’t lose your rights.
Call (718) 701-0700 or use the form below to secure your complimentary strategy call now.

By clicking Schedule Now, you agree to our Privacy Policy, including our Cookie Use.

No Obligation. Completely Confidential.


We're Social

Is it Time to Protect Your Ideas?

Book your FREE Idea Protection Strategy Call

Join over 10,000 others who have asked us to help protect their ideas.