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Patents : Searching the Patent Literature

Finding patents from U.S. and international sources

Finding patents

U.S. Patent & Trademarks Office (USPTO)

The U.S. Patents from 1790 to the most current submissions are available on the from the USPTO website in full-text. See The 7-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy for a structured approach to searching the USPTO.

Google Patent Search

Google provides a google interface to explore the USPTO patent database.

European Patent Office

This is a database that offers international coverage, though they note that it is not comprehensive. Information about 81national patent offices is available from this site at Global Patent Data Coverage, July 2011.

The Lens

A search tool for patents world-wide that searches the European Patent Office’s DocDB bibliographic data from 1907 to present, EP Grants from 1980 to present; U.S. Patent Applications from 2001, Grants from 1976 to present; and WIPO PCT Applications from 1978 to present.

Indexes with patent information

SciFinder Scholar, a database developed and maintained by the American Chemical Society's Chemical Abstracts Service, see patents from nine patent offices worldwide

  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
  • European Patent Office (EPO)
  • French Patent Office (INPI - Institut National de la Propriete Industrielle)
  • German Patent Office (DPMA)
  • Japanese Patent Office (JPO)
  • Russian Patent Office (ROSPATENT - Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks)
  • United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO)
  • United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

In addition, the country patents and years covered by SciFinder can be seen at

Subject Librarian

Myra Waddell's picture
Myra Waddell
Science & Technology Reference Department
Hamilton Library
5220 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822

Office hours: Anytime with or without an appointment

3 Types of Patents

Utility patents are granted for any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof.  Utility patents confer protection for 20 years from the date of application.

Design patents are granted for any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.  Design patents are granted for a term of 14 years.

Plant patents are granted for the discovery or invention and asexual reproduction of any new, distinct variety of plant.  Plant patents are granted for a term of 20 years.

Why search patents?

Primary reason:

  •  To identify specific technological advances and inventions.

Other reasons: 

  • To note trends in an area.
  • To determine whether a particular innovation has already been patented.
  • To identify owners of the rights to a feature you want to include in a product.
  • To identify research areas in or product interests of a particular company.