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.
- Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) - formerly known as the European Patent Classification (EP)
- International Patent Classification (IPC)
Queen Mary subscribes to four databases which include the option for searching for patents:
- Lexis: LexisNexis allow users to search for patents. Click on Sources and search for patents to find their sources to patents. The services usually give you text-only access to the patents, i.e. the graphs and other images are usually not included, but described.
- Reaxys: includes the Patent Chemistry Database, covering selected English-language chemical patents since 1976.
- Scopus: Scopus lists patents within their search results. No full-text access.
There are also freely available services:
- Espacenet: 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.
- Google Patents: Search over seven million patents.
- IPSUM: 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.
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: (USPTO) provides full-text of US patents from 1970-present.
- 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
- DEPATISnet: Provided by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. Use to search for the full text of patents from a range of countries.
- Guidance : patents step by step: A useful step-by-step guide to patents from idea to granting.
- Patent Offices: 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
- 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.
- UK Intellectual Property Office: offers detailed advice for inventors on all aspects of applying for a patent.
Tips on literature which can help you to effectively and efficiently read patents
- Donald, K.E., Kabir, K.M.M. & Donald, W.A. 2018. 'Tips for reading patents: a concise introduction for scientists'. Expert Opin Ther Pat, 28(4):277-280. Available here.
- Irish, V. 2000. 'How to read a patent specification'. Engineering Management Journal, 10(2):71-73.