Patent Database Comparison: Everything You Need to KnowPatent Law ResourcesPatent Search
A patent database comparison gives you an overview of various websites you can use in your patent search to determine if your ideas are already patented.6 min read
Why Use Multiple Patent Databases?
A patent database comparison is important since multiple patent databases are typically used during a patent search due to the fact that patents get issued worldwide for many inventions and products. If you're searching for a patent, using the right patent database will save you time.
Governments, businesses, and private organizations create patent databases to help inventors see if their ideas are already patented. Each database offers a different time range for patents, updating frequency, types of patents you can look for, and different levels of use. Some patent databases are free to search, and some charge users a fee.
To help you with your patent search, this patent database comparison lists:
- Who publishes the database
- What type of patents you can find
- What features each database has
Why Is a Patent Database Comparison Important?
Searching a patent database can help you answer these questions:
- Is my invention new?
- Does a partial solution exist for my problem?
- Can I protect my invention with a patent?
- Does my invention break another patent?
- Are my competitors working on something similar?
- Does anyone want to license this invention?
- Can I find partners to work with on my invention?
USPTO Patent Database
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has its own patent database you can search. This source is free to use and offers full text and image of U.S. patents and patent applications from 1790 until the present.
If you're looking between 1790 to 1975, you can search by:
- classification number
- patent number
If you're searching from 1976 until the present, you can search by:
- patent number
- issue date
- technical features in the patent
- inventor's name
- company's name
- application date
Branches of the USPTO include:
- U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) patents: focusing on energy innovations
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) patents: focusing on drug products
- PatentDocs: lists of recent USPTO patents
Espacenet is the patent database from the European Patent Office (EPO). This source is the largest free patent database available with more than 90 million patents from more than 80 countries. You can download full text of entire patents. Espacenet also works with Google Translate to help translate information to and from multiple languages.
Branches of Espacenet include:
- LATIPAT: for Latin America, Spain, and Portugal
- Dutch patents from 1912 until the present
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) oversees the Canadian patent database. Here you can search through 148 years of patents in English or French. You can search by using a:
- patent document number
- patent date
Branches of the CIPO include:
- Canadian Patent Register: focusing on human and veterinary drugs
DEPATISnet is the patent database of the German Patent and Trademark Office. You can search in German and English. The database includes German, U.S., European, and Patent Cooperation Treaty international patents. Key features of DEPATISnet include:
- free to use
- browse by page or jump directly to one page
- print one page or an entire document
AusPat is the Australian patent database. This database offers users current information about Australian patents, which is around 7 percent of patents in the world. AusPat lets you see who owns a patent and saves up to 200 entries.
The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People's Republic of China offers Chinese patent searches in English and Chinese. Some search options include:
- application date
- inventor name
Japan Patent Office (JPO) oversees a database for Japanese patents. You can search in English and Japanese. Some legal status information and images that go with the patent is available in this database.
IPO of Republic of Serbia
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Republic of Serbia has its own patent database you can search. You can look for Serbian patents from 1921 though the present. You can search by publication number, application number, or international patent classification (IPC) symbol.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) maintains the Patentscope patent database. This database has 40 million patents from 36 countries, including the United States. Users can get free online translation using Google Translate.
Google Patents lets you search more than 10 million granted patents and more than 4 million patent applications from around the world for free. This search includes the entire collection from the USPTO, EPO, and WIPO. Google translates the patents into English.
You can search by patent number or keyword. Along with Google Patents, you can also use Google to download the entire USPTO patent database. You'll need a fast internet connection and large hard drive due to the millions of stored records in this database.
Google Patents has fewer search fields than USPTO or Free Patents Online. Also, the most recent patents aren't always listed, so you could find holes in the Google Patents database.
LexisNexis TotalPatent One
LexisNexis TotalPatent One lets you look up U.S. patents dating to 1790 and many international patents dating to the 1800s. You can search in English or in the language of the original patent.
The Lens is a patent database that gives users a free source of data to analyze patents. Even though The Lens calls Australia its home base, you can search for global patents by:
- document type
You can share data on The Lens, but you can't download any data.
Patents.com is a website where you can:
- search for patents
- look through a patent exchange
- file a patent application
You can search by keyword or find patents by U.S. state.
Free Patents Online
Sign up for an account at Free Patents Online and get access to:
- U.S. patents and applications
- European patents
- WIPO documents
The quick search is only for U.S. patents, but the advanced search includes foreign patents. You can save and download the patents you find.
Official Gazette for Patents
The Official Gazette for Patents shows you the most recent 52 patent issues in the United States. You can search by inventor's name or type of patent, including design, utility, and plant. Clicking on "Full Text" will take you to the complete patent at the USPTO database.
OECD Patent Database
The OECD Patent Database is mainly for patent statisticians. This source is free to use and covers patent applications to the USPTO and EPO. You can search by region, country, or technology field.
Derwent Innovations Index
Derwent Innovations Index offers patent searches from 2008 to the present. This index covers almost all technical and scientific areas including:
Derwent Innovations Index is available only to University at Buffalo (the State University of New York) students and staff.
Princeton University offers patent databases for specific subjects:
- BIOSIS Previews: covers patents for biomedical and life sciences
- Global Health Database: covers patents for environmental health, health care, and public health
- SciFinder Web: covers patents for chemistry and related sciences and is available only to Princeton students and staff
MedsPaL is the Medicines Patents and Licences Database. This database offers patent information for some of the following:
- hepatitis C
Tools to Help You With Patent Database Comparison Searches
Along with patent database websites, you'll also find online tools to help you with your patent search.
- Patent2Net: get access to and process data from Espacenet
- Python EPO OPS Client: get access to the EPO database
- Open Patent Services (OPS): get access to EPO's raw data
- Fung Institute Patent Server: get access to USPTO data
- The Intellogist: get expert answers to patent search questions
- Patent Information Users Group: discover the International Society for Patent Information Professionals
- International Patent Classification (IPC): a system for classifying patents by their technology area based on a tree diagram model. There are eight sections labeled with letters A through H and Y. Each section focuses on a major field of technology. From this level, the sections divide into smaller and smaller classes.
- Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC): a joint-partnership system between the USPTO and EPO for classifying patents. Both the USPTO and EPO agreed to make their existing classification structure (ECLA and USPC) more in line with one another. This decision follows from the IP5, a forum of the largest international intellectual property offices, and its Common Hybrid Classification (CHC) project. The EPO started organizing its documents using CPC on Jan. 1, 2013, and the USPTO started using the classification system in 2015. Both the EPO and the USPTO will continue to classify patents in the IPC, since both offices are revising the CPC and reclassifying their documents.
Get Help With Searching through Patent Databases
Doing a patent database comparison will help you decide which databases to search when you need to find patents. Researching patents is an important step in the invention process. Once you know if your idea isn't already covered by another patent, you can register your own patent using the UpCounsel marketplace as your resource. If you're ready to register, a patent attorney can help you as you work through the process.
If you need help with a patent search, you can post your question or concern on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.