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Patents and Intellectual Property

This guide covers patents, what they are, how to find them and how to apply for a patent. It also offers resources about copyright and fair use of materials for academic purposes.

Resources and Guides to Information

Patent Search Tools -University of Delaware Library

Searching for Patents by Subject - University of Delaware Library

Searching for Patents by Inventor or Assignee - University of Delaware Library

Patent & Trademark Searching -McKinney Engineering Library, University of Texas at Austin

Patent Research Tutorial - Univ. of Central Florida

Conducting a Patent Search at a Patent and Trademark Depository Library: The 7-Step Strategy - U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Guide to Online Resources - European Patent Office (8Mb, pdf)

The Wide World of esp@cenet: Basic Searching in the esp@cenet Worldwide Database by Jason Martin, Intellectual Property (IP) Journal of the PTDLA, Vol. 3 (1), June 2003.

Patent Information User Group (PIUG): A Discussion list the offers good information about patenting offices and histories of patents in foreign countries.


Freely Available Patent Databases


Espacenet (

The European Patent Office's (EPO) patent search engine, Esp@cenet, searches published patent applications in over 80 countries. It is the most comprehensive free database available, with over 60 million patents.  Some countries offer full text, others just citation and abstract.  

Country Specific Patent Searching

Industrial Property Digital Library (

The JPO (Japanese Patent Office) serves patents from their Industrial Property Digital Library. The PAJ (Patent Abstracts of Japan) database has word searching back to 1976. Their classification system (F1/F-term) search goes back to 1885. There is a three to six month delay in translations to English. The Japan Patent Information Organization (JAPIO) offers English-language access to Japanese unexamined patent applications and offers a machine translation of patents.

SurfIP (

SurfIP, the Singapore government's patent database, has a structured search that accesses any or all of the following countries' patent information: U.S., China, UK, Canada, Taipei, Korea, and Thailand. The choices also include EP patents. Interestingly, Japan is not listed. The number of stars in the results list indicates perceived relevance, and an active link leads to the home site for the full document. 


The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) database has full patents back to 1920 with text searching for patents back to 1978. Earlier patents are searched by patent number, title, inventor/assignee, or classification.

Patent Analysis (

Countries like Australia and New Zealand have put patent information online recently. Patent Analysis searches both along with the U.S. and European patents.

Non-Governmental Databases

Google Patents  (

Google Patents indexes more than 87 million patents and patent applications with full text from 17 patent offices including the USPTO, the EPO and databases from China, Japan and Korea. Advanced Search provides most common field searching, including CCL and IPC. Patent Search (

Allows you to search granted patents and applications from the US, Europe, Australia, and beyond. Includes patents from the WIPO. Full-text available as HTML and/or PDF.

Freepatentsonline (

Freepatentsonline has search fields similar to PATFT. It searches U.S., EP, (European), JP (Japanese), and WO (PCT) patents. Alerts, portfolios, and PDF downloading are available with free registration, but only for the sites' word-searchable patents (i.e., U.S. from 1976). 

Patent Lens (

Patent Lens, created by CAMBIA, an independent, international non-profit, has a structured search and range of coverage similar to SurfIP. Country coverage is different, however: full text of PCT (1978-present), USPTO (AppFT, and PATFT (1976-present), EPO (1980-present) and IP Australia (applications and patents 1998-present).

U.S. Patents


The USPTO's PATFT searches and serves over 7,000,000 patents and includes all three types of patents (utility, design and plant). Word searches only find patents from 1976 to the present. Prior patents must be searched by issued date, patent number or classification number.

Allows you to search granted patents and applications from the US, Europe, Australia, and beyond. Includes patents from the WIPO. Full-text available as HTML and/or PDF.

Contact Information

Jennifer Hart
Librarian for Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics
Ryerson Physical Laboratory 156
Email Jenny

Subscription & Fee Databases

SciFinder Scholar: (University of Chicago Library subscription) Contains 4 million patents from over 54 countries.  It's main coverage is chemistry and it is fairly comprehensive on this subject. It also provides indexing using technical (rather than legal) terms.  Coverage varies based on topic.  More information is here.

Derwent Innovations Index: This index is one of the most comprehensive databases of patent information. Over 11 million basic inventions and 20 million patents are covered from over 40 patent-issuing authorities dating back to 1963. Full text is provided for most patents.

QPAT-US : A subscription-based web service for patents and patent information that provides for an annual fee access to the Pluspat database, comprehensive patent family searching, detailed legal status information, unlimited PDF patent copies, and full-text searching of published applications and patents from the United States and the European Patent Office.