The BibLaTeX manual, in §2.2.2, clarifies the use of the location field for @Patent entries:

With @patent entries, this list indicates the scope of a patent.

Could anyone elaborate upon the intended use of this field, in practice?

Is it not self-evident that a US patent has scope (at least) within the US, and international scope wherever bilateral IP policies exist?

Perhaps this field should be modified to permit the encoding of useful scope information, like the existence of joint filings or automatic propagation to other patent offices (e.g. the patent's status across the IP5)?


biblatex's patent support is only rudimentary and to some extent even only illustrative of what is possible. If you need more advanced features, you will have to implement them yourself.

Specifically about location the documentation of the @patent type on p. 11 has

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.

So I would say that location is usually not needed if type (or maybe even number) already implies the scope (US patent, UK patent, German patent, ...). There is only one example of location with @patent in biblatex-examples.bib

  author       = {Almendro, Jos{\'e} L. and Mart{\'i}n, Jacinto and S{\'a}nchez,
                  Alberto and Nozal, Fernando},
  title        = {Elektromagnetisches Signalhorn},
  number       = {EU-29702195U},
  date         = 1998,
  location     = {countryfr and countryuk and countryde},

and that is a fake entry which does not exist, so inferences as to what exactly things should mean are risky. According to http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Comp/comp.text.tex/2007-01/msg00188.html and http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Comp/comp.text.tex/2007-01/msg00227.html the location here was intended to show that an initially German patent was somehow extended to other countries as well. Whether or not that is common usage or important I don't know.

This post by Philipp Lehman (and the entire thread) on comp.text.tex about the @patent entry type are interesting for historical purposes.

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