Patents can be found in a variety of websites. They often provide design ideas for students in engineering, computer science, art or business, but they could be useful for students in just about any discipline.
If you want to view the full text of a patent, you could use the TIFF image viewing system they provide, but we actually recommend using a service such as Patent Fetcher or Pat2PDF to open up patents as PDF documents.
Google also has a database of patents, but some of the patents have typos from the OCR of the scanned documents. Searching this is easy in the Google interface, but beware that you may not get comprehensive results.
If you would like to find a patent that has been developed outside of the United States, then you could use the esp@cenet network, which includes information on patents from over 70 countries and regions.
We also have a research guide that includes some other patent resources.
If you have any questions about the patentability of an idea, you should go to the Denver Public Library, use PUBWEST and talk to their knowledgeable librarians. The DPL is a Patent and Trademark Depository Library.
Science & Engineering Librarian