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For the Beginning Searcher

Searching for patents on specific devices, processes, or inventions can be complex. If you are looking for a specific patent you can search by patent number or inventor’s name. However, if you are exploring what patents exist in certain areas you can search by keyword or browse the classification indexes.
The European Patent Office, listed below, is often the best place to start.

Patent Offices and Databases

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)

The Canadian Patents Database contains patent documents from 1869 to the present.

  • Note that the text of the abstracts and claims sections is not available for patents that were granted prior to August 15, 1978. These patents can only be searched by their patent number, titles, owner or inventor names, or classification.
  • Patent documents filed prior to October 1, 1989, are classified according to the Canadian Patent Classification (CPC) system. Patent documents filed on or after October 1, 1989, are classified according to the International Patent Classification (IPC) system.
  • Anatomy of a Canadian Patent Document – useful overview of the various sections of a Canadian patent by Mike White at Queen’s University
European Patent Office (EPO)

Search esp@cenet for European, U.S., and worldwide patents. It is often considered the best place to start a patent search. The European Classification System (ECLA) is used by the EPO for classifying patents.

United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)

Search PATFT for issued patents and AppFT for patent applications.

  • U.S. patents from 1790 to present, applications 2001 to present. Patents issued from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by patent number, issue date, and current U.S. classifications. The older U.S. patents are presented as TIFF image files. (You can install a free TIFF reader that is designed in part for reading U.S. patent office files).
  • The USPTO classifies patents under the U.S. Patent Classification System (USPC).
  • Anatomy of a U.S. Patent Document – useful overview of the various sections of a U.S.  patent by Mike White at Queen’s University
Japan Patent Office (JPO)

Search the Patent Abstracts of Japan (PAJ) database.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Search international patent applications (1978 to present) on Patentscope. The WIPO classifies patents according to the International Patent Classification (IPC) key.

Other Sources of Patent Information

Google Patents – easy search of the USPTO database (issued patents and applications)
Free Patents Online – free patent search website
Patent Lens – another free patent search website
Intellogist – some very useful free, online patent tools
Links to Patent Offices around the World

Online Patent Searching Guides

Patent Tutorials from Queen’s University

Books on Patents in the U of S Library

Patent searching made easy : How to do patent searches on the Internet and in the library / by David Hitchcock (2007) – Engineering Library T210 .H58 2007
Patent searching : Tools & techniques / [edited by] David Hunt, Long Nguyen, Matthew Rodgers (2007) – Natural Sciences Library 3rd Floor T210 .H86 2007
Introduction to patents information / [edited by] Stephen van Dulken (2002) – Engineering and Health Sciences Libraries T210 .I.58 2002

Patents at the University of Saskatchewan

Industrial Liaison Office (ILO) is a department of the University of Saskatchewan created in 2004 reporting to the Vice President Research. One function of ILO is to commercialize intellectual property (e.g. inventions) arising from university-generated research.

For more information or assistance with patent searching

Please contact:  DeDe Dawson  Natural Sciences Liaison Librarian


Last Updated December 2009