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Patents

A quick guide to introduce you to patents and patent search services

FPO (FreePatentsOnline) is a free search engine for international patents, patent applications and patent abstracts. You can create an account, which allows you to save searches, organize, annotate and share documents, and set up alerts to notify you when new documents of interest are published.

The Lens is a worldwide, open access full-text patents resource, covering over 90 patent jurisdictions. You can search its patent database of over 98.5 million patents and applications. 

Google Patents allows you to search and read the full text of patents and applications from around the world, from USPTOEPOWIPODPMACIPOand SIPO.

Google Patent Search

Many of the national and international patent offices provide searchable patents databases, for example:

European Patent Office (EPO): the EPO's collection of over 90 million international patent documents is available online via the free Espacenet service. You can obtain official copies of European patent documents (applications and granted patents) via the European Publication Server

Intellectual Property Office (UK): the official government body responsible for UK intellectual property rights, which is responsible for examining and issuing or rejecting patents. You can search Ipsum to check the status and access information on UK patent applications. For greater searching functionality, use the Espacenet service of the European Patent Office. 

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency responsible for granting US patents and registering trademarks. You can search for US patents and patent applications in the Patent full-text databases.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a self-funding agency of the United Nations (UN), and is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation. Its activities include services to protect IP across borders and to resolve disputes, and the provision of technical infrastructure to connect IP systems and share knowledge. Its PATENTSCOPE Search Service is a comprehensive searchable database of patents and patent applications.

When you are searching online databases, check the database coverage to see if patent information is includes.

For example, the content coverage for Scopus, shows that patent information is included. It holds details of 28 million patents from five patent offices:

  • US Patent & Trademark Office
  • European Patent Office
  • Japan Patent Office
  • World Intellectual Property Organization
  • UK Intellectual Property Office

This database is available via the Electronic Library. Run a search as normal and you will find  Patents results at the top of your results list, as shown in the screenshot below.

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Directories

These online directories enable you to search for Intellectual Property (IP) and patents offices worldwide:

Information Centres

Patent information centres (collectively known as PATLIB, short for PATent LIBrary) can be found throughout the EPO member states. They have qualified and experienced local staff who can offer practical assistance on different kinds of intellectual property rights.

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