I need to cite some patents for a paper in BibTeX format. Google Patents provide me a BibTeX like this one:

  title={Method and system for measurement of road profile},
  author={Spangler, Elson B.},
  month=may # "~3",
  publisher={Google Patents},
  note={US Patent 4,741,207}

I do want to cite Google as the publisher. Rather the patent is from the US Patent and Trademark Office.

What is the correct way to do this?

Note that this patent, e.g., is expiate due to failure to pay maintenance fee.


I have found this instructions on IEEE:


Basic Format:

[1] J. K. Author, “Title of patent,” U.S. Patent x xxx xxx, Abbrev. Month, day, year.


[1] J. P. Wilkinson, “Nonlinear resonant circuit devices,” U.S. Patent 3 624 125, July 16, 1990.

NOTE: Use “issued date” if several dates are given.

4 Answers 4


Firstly, BibTeX is more or less a data structure. You can populate its fields however you want, as long as it captures the essential information.

Now, there is an @patent{...} type which, while not standard, is supported by many styles. Check the documentation for the citation style you are using for details. As you would be using either the @misc or @patent types, you should try to populate your fields or configure your styles in a way that the compiled output from BibTeX matches the expected style of the document that you are trying to prepare.

For example, IEEEtran's BibTeX package supports that @patent type and you can read their documentation on what fields should be populated and how. In particular, they support the number field which you should populate with 4741207 and the nationality field which you should populate with United States, instead of the Google output which put those information in the note field. The publisher field is actually ignored in the IEEEtrans style, so you don't need to do anything about it, and the url you can just drop, since given the United States patent number it is relatively easy to find it on the USPTO website.

If your publication follows the Chicago manuals, here's how they prefer it to look. Note in particular it does not show any "publisher" or "url" information.

If you use biblatex, this TeX.SE q/a gives a pretty good sample of acceptable use.

In short, like most questions about "how to cite blah", the answer is:

The point of a citation is to give an unambiguous reference to previously published material. Many publishers and societies have established conventions and styles and the practical suggestion is to follow their guidance in how to style your bibliographic information. Absent that, use your own best judgment about how much information is sufficient to identify the reference.

  • 1
    Many tanks. I haven't found the @patent in the documentation, better so and... Yes: I need it for IEEEtran. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 14:31

I found the other answers a bit challenging for some random format. Here's what I did:

 title={Best invention ever},
 author={Edison, Thomas Jones},
 year={U.S. Patent 1 234 567, Nov. 1969}

This appears with the correct formatting, even though it probably not the technically correct way to do it. Not proud, but I need to move on.

  • 3
    This is the perfect hack & thank you for focusing on results rather than perfection. For my needs/bib style, I preferred to add the patent number in the title instead so that it would not appear in the year parentheses.
    – shiri
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 16:49

There is a bibtex @patent entry.

This is what the documentation says: "@patent A patent or patent request. The number or record token is given in the number field. Use the type field to specify the type and the location field to indicate the scope of the patent, if different from the scope implied by the type. ...

  • Required fields: author, title, number, year/date
  • Optional fields: holder, subtitle, titleaddon, type, version, location, note, date, month, year, addendum, pubstate, doi, eprint, eprintclass, eprinttype, url, urldate"

However, the @patent entry might be treated as an @misc entry, and therefore, depending on the LaTeX citation style you use, you might want to use the @misc keyword instead, as indicated in the question.

Finally, I would suggest to use WIPO Patentscope instead of Google for your url references.


Add the nationality as per IEEEtran.bst as described in:


In addition all you need is authors, title, url, year, date.

So if submitted to the United States this is what you would provide as the nationality or U.S.

Also as mentioned above use WIPO patent search not google for accurate dates and years on patents.

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