Just attended a fabulous AIIP Webinar on Patent Research presented by Dominic DeMarco, Managing Director, Patent Agent and Researcher at DeMarcoIP.
In addition to speaking on what patents are and are not, why anyone would search patents, and how to actually do a basic search, DeMarco named the top 6 major commercial databases (with a head nod to the hundreds nipping at their heels) and gave an applied, very detailed tour of one via sample searches. These big 6 are premium resources, but very costly. Interestingly, he also shared information about some equally wonderful premium but free tools as well.
Espacenet is a patent search tool made available at the European Patent Office. It provides “free access to more than 80 million patent documents worldwide, containing information about inventions and technical developments from 1836 to today.” But, like the major commercial databases, Espacenet doesn’t have information for all patent areas, so you may wish to use another premium database at WIPO to search those areas.
WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization is “a global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation.” It makes its Patentscope tool freely available as well as other valuable, no-fee search tools.
You may be wondering why the US Patent and Trademark Office isn’t the front runner for patent searching. The simple answer is that, although it was a cutting edge tool when first created, it has not been maintained to keep up with the innovations that are featured by latecomers. Nevertheless, it is still an important resource to use, especially with regard to doublechecking the results you obtained elsewhere.