Patent searching intimidates me. I don’t do enough to feel like I’ve learned the system, and there’s such a specific vocabulary and classification system, that it can be confusing. To add to the confusion, you can do searches for patents from a number of sites, both free and subscription based. However, patent applications can have a lot of useful information, including references and illustrations.
Some places to search for patents:
- free • government site: U. S. Patent and Trademark Office search for issued US patents and published applications. You can search the full-text of the patents issued from 1976 – present. For earlier patents (1790-1975), you’ll need to use the patent number or classification. You can download the full patent for any of the years, those from 1975 and prior are tiff images. Note that published applications are those that have not yet been granted – be aware that the patent application may change in scope before the patent is issued. Check out their guides page for help based on your search needs.
- free: Google Patents allows keyword searching on all US patents (but not patent applications). When you find a patent, Google creates an about page, giving you a quick glance at the relevant parts. Note that it takes a few months for new patents to show up in Google’s search, there may also be some errors in the character recognition of older patents. The search help gives a good explanation of how it works.
- free: CAMBIA Patent Lens search for US, European and Australian patents. This site was created to increase patent transparency and provide knowledge of the patent world. Take a look at their help page for search help.
- subscription (Carleton username/password required for access): LexisNexis click on Legal Research, and then Patents.
- subscription (Carleton username/password required for access): SciFinder Scholar for chemical patents. When searching, filter the document type to Patent. There are a number of specialized searches for chemical structures. You will need to have the SciFinder Scholar client installed on your computer.