You can find basic patent information in free online databases. This information will give you an initial overview and can be used as a source of inspiration. However, querying these databases isn’t a substitute for a professional search by an expert.
Almost all patent offices publish national patent applications and patents granted in publicly accessible databases. Here are some examples:
The European Patent Office's database contains more than 90 million patent documents from around the world with information on inventions and technical developments from 1836 up to the present day. An online tutorial provides an introduction to using Espacenet. You can search by means of a smart search or for fields such as title, abstract, publication number, applicant, inventor or classification symbols (CPC/IPC) using their advanced search. The search language is English. You can also search the European Patent Register for procedural and legal status data (for European patent applications only).
The database of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) provides similar services to Espacenet. It covers data worldwide. You can search in any language in both the title and the full text if available. There are various search modes available including the beginner's search, the expert search (in which complex search queries can be formulated), and the Ikofax search for professionals experienced in using the Ikofax query language and the DEPATIS database systems.
Using this system of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), you can search 2.7 million international patent applications (PCT) and 49 million patent documents from regional and national patent collections, some of them in the full text. It is possible to carry out basic searches, advanced searches and structured searches in individual fields such as title, abstract, applicant or inventor.
- Patent Lens
This database is maintained by Cambia, an international non-profit research organisation in Australia, which is supported by the WIPO and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). The database contains more than 90 million documents from around the world. It is possible to carry out key word, classification and biosequence searches.
Patent classifications are classification systems in which patent documents are organised based on the technical concepts described in them regardless of language and terminology. It is possible to search these classification systems in almost all databases. There are various such systems in use. The following are two of the most important:
- International Patent Classification (IPC)
You can find this on the website of the WIPO in English and French and on the website of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office in German.
- Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC)
This is available on Espacenet but it is only possible to do the classification search in English. The CPC is a collaboration between the European and US patent offices.
- FI/F-terms: Japanese FI classification and F-terms.
- ECLA: The European Classification System (replaced by CPC). It can still be relevant for older documents.
- USPC: The United States Patent Classification System (now part of the CPC). It can still be relevant for older documents.
- DEKLA: The classification system of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA).
- DWPI Classification: The Derwent World Patents Index Classification is a simple classification system that categorises patent documents covering chemistry, engineering and electronics.
We would be happy to provide you with further information by telephone (+41 31 377 77 77). Our patent experts are also available to help you if necessary.
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