Navigating the world of technical reports, standards, patents and codes can be tricky. Here are some helpful definitions to get you started.
Code - A standard that has been adopted by one or more governmental bodies and has the force of law (ASME definition). One example is the Boiler and Pressure Vessel code.
Patent - An intellectual property right granted by the government to an inventor for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted (USPTO definition).
Specification - describes a product or system in terms of what it is capable of doing. These are often refined during the design process.
Standard - "technical definitions and guidelines - 'how to' instructions for designers, manufacturers and users" (ASME definition). These are voluntary guidelines but using them is highly recommended because they promote safety and are widely used across industry.
Technical Report - a document that describes the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem
Standards are often tricky to find. Contact the engineering librarian for help finding standards.