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The University of Iowa Libraries

Lichtenberger Engineering Library

Patents

Sites to Search

There are many different tools available for patent searching. 

Classification Searching

Major Sites

Type PatentSCOPE FreePatentsOnline Google Patents USPTO Espacenet
Free

Free

Sponsored by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) 

Free Registration

  • additional features (e.g., PDFs)
  • no advertisements

Free

Google search engine accessing
the 
U.S. Patents & Trademark Office

Free

Sponsored by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Free

Sponsored by the European Patent Office

U.S. Coverage
  • 1790 – current for bibliographic information
  • 1863 – current for abstracts (not all are full-text searchable)
  • 1836 - current
  • only selected pre-1976 patents are full-text searchable
  • 1790 - current
  • comprehensive USPTO coverage
  • 1790 - current
  • pre-1976 can only search by patent # and class code
  • 1836 - current 
  • abstract coverage from 1970
Foreign Coverage See also Directory of Intellectual Property Offices by Country Coverage varies for 36 patent offices
Check for latest coverage
  • EPO (Europe+) 1981 -
  • WIPO 1978 -
  • Japanese 1976 -
None None
  • EPO (Europe+) 1981 -
  • WIPO 1978 -
Search Interface

Excellent

  • 3 search types: Simple;  Advanced (Boolean); Field combination
  • full text
  • 13 languages

Excellent

  • proximity searching
  • word weighting
  • word stemming
  • presents results by relevancy ranking

Excellent

Awkward

  • complex syntax
  • includes detailed Help menu

Good

  • 5 search methods (Smart; Quick; Advanced;  Number; Class)
  • onscreen syntax & search tips
  • English, French & German
  • links to European country specific screens
PDFs

Yes

Includes PDFs of applications and other select documents

Yes

Registration required

Yes

Clicking the “Download PDF” button on the patent’s About page

No

Requires TIFF viewer for images

Yes
Applications Yes Yes Yes Yes, in separate database Yes
RSS/email alerts Yes No No
Other
  • Translator function for 11 languages
  • Full-text searching

Registration required for advanced features such as saving searches, email alerts, viewing PDFs, etc.

  • full-text searching
  • able to view drawings separately
  • view overview, citiations, references, claims, and drawings from the about page 
  • Patent application status
  • Assignee changes
  • Sequence searching available