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Patents: Locating Patents
Resources for finding, obtaining and understanding patents.
Patents are a combination of a technical document and a legal document. While they must describe an invention in sufficient detail for someone else "skilled in the art" to recreate it, the language used may not be the same language that you would expect in a journal article on the topic. So, a simple keyword search is unlikely to be comprehensive.
While there are several free databases which index the patent literature, in general they do not offer advanced searching or analysis techniques. There are commercial, value-added databases which do have such advanced features, but they are expensive to use, and, with a few key exceptions, UCSB does not subscribe to them.
If you need to do a thorough search of the patent literature, consult with a librarian. For technical or business information, we can help you find what you need.
If you need a comprehensive search of the patent literature, as for a "prior art" search to determine if you have a patentable invention, you will ultimately need to consult a professional patent searcher.
If you are interested in an in-depth look at patent searching, or are considering a career in patent information, see:
This database covers United States patents only, from 1790 to the present.
There are separate searches for granted patents and published patent applications (2001 to present).
Patents and applications from 1976 to the present are full-text searchable. Patents from 1975 and before may only be searched by patent number or U.S. patent classification code.
Patents from 1976 to the present may be viewed as full-text web pages. Page images of all patents are available as TIFF images, which require a special plug-in for display on Web browsers. This plug-in is not currently available on UCSB Library workstations.
German patents 1877-present (including the former Federal Republic and Democratic Republic of Germany), plus patents from numerous other countries, with varying coverage dates. German patents are all full-text searchable.
The search interface is available in German or English.
German patents are availabel as full-text PDF images.
Espacenet is available in English, French or German. Esp@cenet also has local servers (see list) in the languages of every EPO member state.
It covers over 90 current and former patent-issuing authorities. Dates of coverage vary widely by country. Some European countries have records going back to the 19th century. The European Patent Office itself began publishing patents in 1978.
Patents may be searched by keyword, patent numbers, inventor, date of publication and/or International or European patent classification codes.
Full-text images are availble for many patents (including some US patents or their equivalents) as PDF files.
This free ad-supported commercial site allows full-text searching of the entire US patents database (1790-present.) the European Patent Office, World Intellectual Property Organization, and 20 important national patent collections (see Google Patents Coverage for details.)
Patents may be searched by keyords, patent classification codes and metadata (authors, assignees, dates, etc.) Google is in the process of adding a facility for searching for chemical structures in paents by SMILES strings.
Note: Full-text indexing of pre-1976 patents is done by scanning the patents and using optical character recognition software (OCR). This process is highly imperfect and often introduces errors in keywords, inventors' names, etc. Be aware that you may miss useful documents in any search of the pre-1976 literature.
Patent images may be downloaded as PDF files.
When viewing a patent, you may click on "Find Prior Art" to search Google Patents, Google Scholar and Google Books for patents, journal articles and books that share keywords with the patent, and so might constitute prior art for the patent.
IP.com, Inc. is the world’s leader in defensive publications, in the IP.com Prior Art Database. Defensive publications do not claim patent rights for an invention, but establish prior art so that someone else cannot patent the invention and preclude the publisher from using/manufacutring/selling the invention. Disclosures can be published in any language, and they are searchable in those languages online. Unique identifiers indicate documents containing chemical structures as well as publications open for comment in the IP Discussion Forum. Disclosures are published every day online and also appear in the printed IP.com Journal. The IP.com Prior Art Database is freely available to search, and some, but not all, full-text disclosure documents are available as free downloads.
IP.com also features a freely-searchable Library of Patents and Non-Patent Literature, which includes US patents and patent applications, the IP.com Prior Art Database, and patents, applications and English translations of the bibliographic information and abstracts of many of these from the People's Republic of China.
IP.com also provides fee-based services for patentability, freedom to operate and other searches.
This free database (formerly PatentLens) from the Initiative for Open Innovation, allows searching of US, European, Australian and WIPO patents from 1976-present. The interface is available in English (both US and UK), French and Japanese.
Full-text is available as HTML text or (in most cases) PDF files.
Special features include: patent family and legal status information on most patents; protein and DNA sequence searching; "patent landscapes" for important subject areas, graphical analysis of patent sets, patent citations etc..
US patents only; searchable by patent number only.
Retrieves patent page images from the USPTO and converts them to a PDF file. Since this is done page-by-page and on-request, it can be a time-consuming process for lengthy patents. However, it is free, and delivers crisp page images in PDF format.
PATENTSCOPE is the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) search service. It allows searching of WO patent applications from 1978 to present, as well as patents from a number of national patents offices (e.g. Russia) and the EPO and Latipat. The interface is available in English, French and Spanish.
Full-text is available as HTML pages. Some documents are available in limited PDF format.
Patentscope includes a number of useful visualization tools which can generate bar or pie charts of countries, assignees, inventors, etc. from the results of a search.
The Derwent Innovations Index indexes patents of chemical, electrical and mechanical inventions from 40 patent-issuing authorities worldwide. Users may seaerch by topic, inventor, patent assignee, patent number, classification codes, as well as searching by cited patents, and by chemical compounds. Patent titles and abstracts are enhanced by Derwent patent expherts for increased clarity and better topic searching.
Date Coverage: 1963 to present
Materials Indexed: Government Documents; Patents & Trademarks
Reaxys indexes millions of chemical substances (organic, inorganic and organometallic) and chemical reactions, with up to hundreds of chemical and physical property information. It combines the Beilstein Handbook fo Organic Chemistry, the Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry and the Elsevier Patent Chemistry Database. It is searchable by text keywords, numerical physical and chemical properties, and by chemical structures and substructures.
New user? -- The first time you use this database you need to register for an account. Use the SciFinder Registration Information link above the description to access registration information.
SciFinder is an interface for the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) databases of chemical subtances, chemical reactions and references, with one of the largest collections in each of these areas. In addition to text searching, SciFinder provides chemical structure searching and sophisticated refinement tools.
Date Coverage: 1907 - present, with selected pre-1907 material
Materials Indexed: Conference Proceedings; Journal Articles; Patents & Trademarks; Technical Reports; Theses & Dissertations
ew user? -- The first time you use this database you need to register for an account. Go to the SciFinder Registration Information page (http://proxy.library.ucsb.edu:2048/login?url=http://www.library.ucsb.edu/node/2017) to access registration information.
Already have a SciFinder account?: Your UCSB SciFinder username and password will also work for SciFinder-n. Note that your saved searches and Keep Me Posted alerts in SciFinder will not automatically transfer to SciFindern and vice versa. You may need to recreate them.
NOTE: Commercial use of your University account is strictly prohibited.
SciFinder-n indeses the same vast collection of chemical patents as SciFinder (see above), inluding chemical substance inexing and Markush structure indexes. Uniquely, it provides access to the PatentPak collection of full text chemical patents, internally linked for easy discovery of where specific substances are listed in lengthy patents.
Dates: 1907 - present, with selected material from 1840 - 1907,
Materials indexed: Conference proceedings, Journal articles, Patents, Preprints, Technical reports, Theses and dissertations