Finding patents

Patents are useful sources for:

  • current awareness of technological advances
  • checking that your proposed invention is unique
  • identifying trends in technology
  • full and practical descriptions of technologies
  • references to other publications

What is a patent?

A patent gives a person a unique and legal right to make, use or sell their invention within a jurisdiction (or jurisdictions) for a fixed period of time. The patent is granted in return for full disclosure of the details of the invention. 

Finding patents

Espacenet gives free access to more than 70 million patent documents worldwide, containing information about inventions and technical developments from 1836 to today.

You can also try FreePatentsOnline for US Patents, US applications, and European Patents.

References to patents can be found on some of our Databases eg Derwent Innovations Index (engineering), Food Science and Technology Abstracts, SciFinder (chemistry).

Getting hold of patents

The Library does not hold any patents.

If you need at patent that is not available online contact the British Library Patents section. In addition to their collection of British patents, they hold the most comprehensive range of patent specifications and related material in the world. Since 1855 patents and related material from numerous countries have been collected and now include 47 million patent specifications from over 40 authorities. Numerous gazettes and much support literature, as well as an increasing number of electronic databases, facilitate greater access to the collection through subject, name and classification searches.

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