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A Library guide to finding patents literature

Guidance on finding and accessing patents

Patents are often the first, and only, place that information on a new technology is published so may provide a useful source of research information. Most databases listed below provide links to full-text patents; patents not available online can be obtained through the Library's Interlibrary Loans service. Note that searching these databases does not provide an alternative to a search carried out by a Patent Agent as part of the patenting process; intellectual property guidance and support for University inventors is available from Edinburgh Innovations.

Edinburgh Innovations

Derwent Innovations Index (DII)

Derwent Innovations Index

Index to worldwide patents in the fields of chemistry and engineering. Records of filed patents from patents offices worldwide are provided in a standardised format, with enhanced indexing data.


How to register for SciFinder Scholar

Webpage for SciFinder

Index to chemistry-related patent information from 63 patent-issuing authorities worldwide. Records include enhanced patent abstracts and can be searched by CAS registry numbers or Markush structure.

Espacenet (European Patents Office)

Webpage for Espacenet

Index to more than 90 million patent documents worldwide from 1836 onwards. Full-text access to British patents from 1859. Full-text acces to patents from other countries includes US from 1836 and various starting dates for EPO, WIPO, France, Germany and Switzerland.

European Patent Register (European Patents Office)

Webpage for European Patent Register

The EPR holds information on European patent applications as they pass through the grant procedure, including oppositions, patent attorney/EPO correspondence and more.

USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office)

Webpage for USPTO

  • USPTO PatFT (Patent Full-Text and Image Database) provides PDF images for all patents from 1790 to the present. Searches are limited to patent numbers and/or classification codes for pre-1976 patents.
  • The USPTO AppFT (Patent Application Full-Text and Image Database) provides access to the full-Text and image versions of patent applications. Searches are limited to patent numbers and/or classification codes for Full-Page images.
  • The USPTO GPSN (Global Patent Search Network) is designed to enable searching of the full text of multiple international patent collections, but initially covers Chinese patent documentation from the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People’s Republic of China. Includes full text Chinese patents, English machine translations and full document images.

Google patents

Google patents

Both granted patents and patent applications from the USPTO and EPO are searchable via the Google search engine. US patent applications date back to 1790, EPO patent applications date back to 1978.

Finding Library resources

DiscoverEd - Search for print and online Library books, journals, conferences and more using DiscovereEd.  Sign in to DiscoverEd to manage your Library account

Tips on using DiscoverEd

Information Skills training courses

Courses run throughout the year, delivered either in a classroom or online

Inter-Library Loans

Need a document not held by the Library?

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