Patents are granted by a government for a novel invention for a limited period of time. The patent gives the inventor exclusive rights to the invention and prevents others from making, using or selling the invention without the permission of the inventor.
If you need to search patents databases as preparatory work to applying for a patent it is essential that you search using the various classification schemes in order to retrieve all relevant material. Find a patent closely related to your own research and check the classifications used.
- esp@cenet - An initiative of the European Patent Organisation. Features Worldwide patents, covering patents from the 1970's to date and access to full-text of patents.
- Delphion Intellectual Property Network - excellent database covering many different patent organisations
- Derwent Scientific and Patent Information - this commercial site advertises its priced services, but also provides links to useful patent information.
- Google Patents - Search over seven million patents.
A free patent service, launched by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Provides information about why the Intellectual Property Office did, or did not, grant a patent.
- UK Intellectual Property Office - offers detailed advice for inventors on all aspects of applying for a patent.
- USPTO - United States Patent and Trademark Office Patents databases, with access to full-text of patents.
Provided by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. Use to search for the full text of patents from a range of countries.
In general esp@cenet offers the most successful freely available method of searching for all worldwide patents. However, you may also be interested in finding further information about patents from individual national Patent Offices. For a complete list of Patent Offices see: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/urls.jsp
The British Library holds a substantial collection of British and worldwide patents. Although esp@cenet offers the full text of many patents, you may find that there are some patents cited in the database that only have bibliographic information or an abstract. If you have a particular need to see the full text of a patent and it is not available through esp@cenet you may need to visit the British Library. For information about patents at the British Library see http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/patents/index.html
Science Museum Library
The Science Museum Library Swindon holds a set of British Patents from their start in 1617 until the end of 1992, including indexes and sets of abstracts and abridgements as published by the Patent Office. The collection is particularly valuable for historical research. Recent patents and foreign patents are not held and the collection is not suitable for patent searches for new inventions.
Materials researchers may also wish to consult the CSA MicroPatent Materials Patents. Queen Mary Library Service users have free access.
Books about patents
Introduction to patents information. 4th ed. Edited by Stephen van Dulken, The British Library, 2002, is available from the Queen Mary Mile End Library (Classmark T212 INT) and offers practical introductions to searching for patent information.