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Patents: Patent Databases


Patents are a rich source of scientific and technical information. The time-consuming task of searching for patents has been streamlined by the availability of Web-based patent search and retrieval systems. Below we link to the major patent databases.

Major Patent Databases

Five major databases are described below. The first four are freely available on the Internet. The Derwent database can be accessed only by UB patrons.

  1. Espacenet Worldwide Patents database maintained by the European Patent Office (includes U.S. patents).
  2. U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's website, through which you can access the full page images of U.S. patents going back to 1790.
  3. PATENTSCOPE database maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (includes U.S. patents).
  4. Google Patents - Covers the entire collection of granted patents and published patent applications from the USPTO, EPO, and WIPO.
  5. Derwent Innovations Index - Part of the Web of Science suite of databases; covers patents from 2008 to the present only.

Special care should be used to determine the scope of each database.  Country coverage, starting dates, and searchable fields often vary within the same database depending on the country and the time period.

  • Espacenet Worldwide Patents

    This is the single, most comprehensive, free patent database available. The European Patent Office has developed a worldwide patent database of over 90 million patents from over 80 countries, most with full-text page images, available at no charge.

    The starting date varies greatly by country, with the earliest being 1836 for the United States.  The availability of any given search field also varies greatly by country and time period.  For example, only about 50% of the patents have a title field and only 33% have an English abstract. Please review the Espacenet help page regarding coverage of the worldwide database here: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/help?locale=en_WO&topic=coverageww&method=handleHelpTopic. An online tutorial for searching the system is available.  We recommend you consult the Cooperative Patent Classification System before beginning your search.

    This site permits downloading of the full-text of entire patents with a single command. To print or download the full-text, click on the patent title from any search result listing. Then click on the Original documents link on the left. Until one downloads the patent text, one can only print a single page at a time. To download the entire patent text, click on the Download link directly above and to the right of the displayed text. Do NOT use your browser's print, download, or save commands.

    Espacenet has partnered with Google Translate to create Patent Translate, which provides translations (of the patent abstract, description and claims) between English and 31 other languages including German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Chinese, and more. Translation from and into French and German is also available for 27 of the 31 languages. See the Patent Translate FAQ for more information.

    A useful, though dated, guide to the patent procedures and numbering systems used by different countries is the 2001 edition of the Derwent Global Patent Sources: An Overview of International Patents located in the Lockwood Library Science & Engineering Reference Collection, call number T210 .D47 2001.

  • PATENTSCOPE

    This patent database maintained by WIPO covers nearly 40 million patents from 36 countries including European (EP) and World (PCT) patents. See National Collections - Data Coverage for a listing of the countries and data fields searched. A user's guide is available online.

    Special features include free online translation of patent texts using Google Translate and an innovative cross-lingual search capability that automatically translates search terms into multiple languages and includes those terms in your query. PATENTSCOPE also includes excellent analysis and refining tools to narrow search results. Information from the results can be shown as tables, graphs, or pie charts.  For example, a pie chart could be produced showing the number of patents from each country.

  • Google Patents

    Google Patents includes over 4 million patent applications and over 10  million granted patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), European Patent Office (EPO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Deutsches Patent und Markenamt (DPMA), Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), and China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). Patents without English full text are machine-translated to English, so you can search foreign patent documents using only English keywords.

    You can begin your search in a few ways:

    • Enter a patent publication or application number, such as [US9014905B1], [9014905], or [US 14/166,502]
    • Enter freeform text, such as [autonomous vehicle camera]
      • You can also enter ["exact phrases"] and restricts [assignee:"Google Inc"], [inventor:page], and [before:2001].
  • More information is available from the Google Patents About Page.

  • Derwent Innovations Index

    Although this database is more limited in the number of countries and dates covered (2008+), it has a sophisticated search system that permits very precise, yet broad, retrieval. For example, this system permits left and right hand word stemming (truncation), e.g., ‘*degrad*’ that would pick up all words with that character string embedded therein (biodegradation, photodegradable, degradations, etc.) One can also build complex searching using Boolean logic use ‘OR’ to search for many synonyms/variant terms and ‘AND’ to combine any number of concepts. As part of the Web of Science search system, Derwent Innovations Index provides in-depth indexing of patents from 40 issuing authorities for the years 2008 to the present. Nearly all scientific and technical areas are covered including chemistry, electrical technologies, electronics, engineering, and other applied technologies.

    For six major patent offices (U.S., Europe, PCT, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan), patents and articles cited by a given patent can be viewed, but not searched. Using the Advanced Search feature, citing patents can be viewed and searched by number, assignee, and inventor.

    The database can be used to discover the latest technological advances, monitor competitors' progress, formulate fresh ideas for research, or get an overview of inventions in the global marketplace.

    Additional details can be found in our Derwent Innovations Index database description page and the database producer's detailed Database Help Index.

Engineering Librarian

Nancy Schiller's picture
Nancy Schiller
Contact:
119 Lockwood Library
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
716-645-1338