The collection of British patent specifications dates back to the first patent issued in 1617. The national collection of patents from around the world is largely built through international exchange agreements with the respective patenting authorities. It includes all major industrial countries as well as many of the newly industrialised nations.
The policy operates under the Library's general policy statements on collection development.
In addition, official literature on patents, trade marks and designs (including industrial property specifications, gazettes, indexes and law reports) is taken as comprehensively as possible. Publications of the British Patent Office are obtained comprehensively.
Secondary non-official publications (e.g. abstracts and indexes) associated with patents, trade marks and designs are taken where considered useful. All formats are considered and where more than one format is available, then selection is based on usefulness for searching and copying, anticipated volume of use and storage requirements.