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Patents: key databases

This page lists key patent databases and is aimed at UK-based patent searchers. The information here is intended for use by experts; you should ask for help if you are unsure about what you are doing.

  • [Britain] Patents Publication Enquiry
    The British Intellectual Property Office's patent download server. A and B specifications published since 3rd January 2007 are included and retrievable by publication number or date only. A useful source for British B specifications that may not be available on Espacenet, or very long documents that cannot be downloaded as complete files from Espacenet.
  • [Britain] IPSUM
    The British Intellectual Property Office's patent register giving published numbers for filing, ownership details and current status, with additionally online copies of much file wrapper material, including correspondence sent by the IPO after 1st November 2010 or received by the IPO after 1st March 2011. Some additional material is available from 1st July 2011 only. Additionally includes information for the UK-specific phase of granted EPO patents after 1st July 2011. Currently searchable by application or publication number. Changes of ownership may sometimes not be recorded.
  • DEPATISnet
    Database hosted by German Patent Office offering links to Adobe copies of German patents and many foreign patents. Often supplements what is on Espacenet®, especially for German documents.
  • Espacenet┬«
    The 'worldwide' format enables searching across a vast amount of data (back to 1890 by name, title or abstract for Britain, for example). Different formats can be chosen: brief results list, detailed results list, abstract plus drawing, 'mosaic' of drawings, etc. by choosing among the formats. PDFs of the complete specifications are often available. Machine translations from some languages into English are available from the 'Description' formats. Later citations of the document being looked at are also available for certain countries. A useful tutorial can be found at 'Get Assistance' in the Advanced search option.
    Some European B and A4 (top up search reports after PCT publications) are also included. Those specifications suffixed U or Y should have these added to the end of the number or they will not be retrieved. Brief details of coverage with links to spreadsheet files of full coverage information is available.
    British 'B' specifications published since 2002 are now available on the Worldwide server and can be retrieved on the bibliographic data page for a specific patent by looking for the GB.........B number in the "also published as" section.
    Title or abstract words can be truncated by *, or by ? for zero or one character.
  • [European Patent Office] European Patent Register
    Status register of European patent specifications (only to end of opposition period). Current status of EPO documents up to the point of international phase grant. Now searchable by a wide range of fields beyond number. Links to the Espacenet database for the actual specifications and also to the EPO Board of Appeal decisions.
  • [European Patent Office] European Patent Server
    Official site for publication of European Patent Office A and B specifications (omits those published only as WO (PCT) documents). The entire specification forms a single document. New publications go up every Wednesday at 14.00 hours Central European Time.
    You can search by publication/ application number, IPC (to 4 digit level, e.g. A61K), publication date and kind of publication (A1, B8 etc.). All the documents published in a given week can be identified by checking the box for "all kind codes" and selecting the week and year from drop down menus. A subset can then be found by checking the box for the document kind code.
  • [Japan] Patent Abstracts of Japan
    Official site. English abstracts plus drawing of Japanese patent applications from 1976 (though some subject areas were at first not covered). Includes legal status data.
    Machine translations are available at this site (but only from 1993/94). After the search is entered, click on "index indication" for list of hits. Click on the wanted hit. When the abstract appears, click on "Detail" at top to begin translating. The Japanese document is available as "Japanese". There is a delay in placing material on the database of months.
    When searching for specific patent numbers the search box defaults to filing numbers. For A (kokai) publications click on "publication number". Note that all Japanese patent publications at all stages since the beginning of their patent system are available on the Patent & Utility Model Number Search database (available on same page), but this can be searched by known publication number only.
  • [Patent Cooperation Treaty] PatentScope
    Official site. This leads to the 'structured search'. Other search masks are available, as are formats for results, see the "Search" link at the top left corner of the page. Contains images of specifications (including revised, amended etc.), often in different formats, and often priority etc. documents, and has searchable text for Latin character languages from the beginning. Some automated translation is available. May include priority documents and some data on entering national phases. It is updated about noon each Thursday. As well as PCT publications, this also now holds national patents from a number of countries that are not on Esp@cenet, especially in Central and South America.
    Search IPC in the format H03F-3/45. Truncate by using *.
  • [US] Patent Full-Text and Full-Page Image Databases
    Official site. From 1976 searchable front page data of US patents (but with revised US classification) plus text of claims and description. Revised versions of patents following litigation, and correction slips, are not included. Images of patents from 1790 are available and can be searched for by patent number or current US classification.
    Published applications from 15 March 2001 are available as a separate database in the same way as grants. The 'assignees' are often not given.
    You may need to download a free plug-in to view the images. Search IPC in the format H03F003/45. Truncate by using $.