Studying Effectively

Finding patents

Specialist patent databases

Many specialist patent databases are freely available on the Internet. 

Most of these databases will allow you to see the full-text of the patent application.

Examples include:

Derwent Innovations Index
  •  Visit Derwent Innovations Index
  • Available as part of the Web of Knowledge service
  • Enhances the subject content of titles and abstracts of patents to make them easier to find through a subject search
  • Includes patents from 2008 onwards from 40 world-wide patent authorities
  • Citing and cited patents are indexed
  • Visit Espacenet
  • Produced by the European Patent Office and INPADOC, Expacenet covers 80 countries and is one of the most popular sources for full-text patents.
  • Regularity of updates varies depending on the individual national patent offices.
  • Publications from major patenting authorities appear in the database within 4-6 weeks and from many countries within days of publication.
  • Click on “Save Full document” in the horizontal toolbar and follow the instructions.
  • If you see “Document too large”, save the document one page at a time.
US Patent & Trademark Office
  • Visit the US Patent & Trademark Office
  • Offers full text searching for granted US patents and patent applications.
  • Includes patents issued from 1976 to the present and images for all US patents from 1790 onwards.
  • Visit Patentscope
  • Produced by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), Patentscope searches international patent applications (Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), or “world patents”) and patents from several regions and nations.
  • Long documents can easily be downloaded
  • Visit FreePatentsOnline 
  • Includes patents from the United States , European Patent Office, Japan and Patent Cooperation Treaty.
  • Full text PDF files are available for all collections except Japan
  • An alerting feature is available.
  • Free registration is required for more advanced searching.
Google Patents
  • Visit GooglePatents
  • Contains full patent images, allowing you to search the entire content of original patent documents (including text associated with drawings).
  • Restricted to US granted patents and published patent applications.
  • Searches are limited to retrieving around 600 records only; advanced searching is recommended to narrow the search 
  • When searching for patent numbers you need to put a space or punctuation between the year and the patent number and put the whole in inverted commas e.g. “2009 12345”.
  • Visit Lens
  • Contains US, European, PCT patents but is especially useful for some Australian full text data, which is not widely available.
Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS)


You can view the most popular patent databases by using NUsearch [UK, China, Malaysia]

  • Go to the Databases tab 
  • Select ‘Patents’ from the ‘Databases by category’ menu options 
  • Click ‘Available online’ to access any of the resources listed 

Titles of patents are often vague, may use jargon, and tend not to give away the specific content.  For this reason consider using full text searching or search abstracts or summaries and, if available, patent classification codes

Bibliographic databases

Few popular bibliographic databases include patents and those that do have incomplete coverage. Use NUsearch [UK, China, Malaysia] to access these databases.

  • Scopus: Covers a broad range of subject areas
  • BIOSIS: Includes patents in the biological and biomedical sciences.
  • SciFinder (UK only): Covers chemistry, pharmacy and chemical engineering patents and can be searched by authors, subjects, patent numbers as well as chemical structures, substructures and reactions.
  • Reaxys (UK only): Covers selected organic chemistry patents from 1869-1980 and selected English-language patents on organic chemistry, medicinal preparations, biocides, agrochemicals and dyes. It is searchable with text or chemical structures, substructure and reactions.

Obtaining printed patents

If you cannot download a patent online, the library can obtain printed copies of patents through the Interlibrary Loans service.

Patents are legal documents in their country of origin and so are published in the language of that country. Equivalents for other countries in other languages may be available.

Understanding the layout of a patent

Page one contains the Bibliographic details; inventor assignee, patent number, priority date etc.

The Specification is a written description of the invention which must specifically describe how to re-create such an invention

Claims summarise the main claims of the invention including novelty. Only the details in this section are actually protected by the patent.

Drawings may be included, if appropriate.

Protecting your invention with a patent (UK and Malaysia)

Do not publish your research until you have spoken to your supervisor.  You should also talk to:

Reading in the library




Further reading


  • Using Library lending services
  • Online research and information skills on Moodle: Malaysia

Information on the patent process

Reading and interpreting sources and data


People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


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