Reading patents can be painful if you’re not a patent attorney. It can be hard enough to comprehend all the science without trying to understand the legal jargon.
If you’re totally unfamiliar with patents, the USPTO patent site is a good place to start; take a look at the Concept to Protection video presentation. Also check out Introduction to Patent Law from Fenwick & West LLP. Brown & Michaels has a comprehensive site on intellectual property; I found the How Do I Read a Patent section very informative. For more specific information regarding biotechnology patents, I suggest taking a look at How To Read a Biotech Patent by Carol Nottenburg. All of these articles are helpful in understanding some of the legal terms commonly used in patents.