A patent is a protection granted by a government that gives the owner the right to keep others from making, using or selling an invention. A Canadian patent applies within Canada for 20 years from the date of filing of a patent application. For more information about patents in Canada, including preparing patent applications, obtaining a patent in Canada, protections that patents provide, and applying for patents outside of Canada see the Government of Canada Guide to Patents.
Why search for patents?
For researchers and students, searching through patent documents can help you:
- Identify trends and developments in a specific field
- Find information that prevents duplication of research
- Identify unproductive avenues of enquiry
- Keep track of the work of a particular individual or company
- Gain new ideas for research
You can use the following databases to find patents.
- Canadian Patents Database
Includes patents submitted to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) from 1869 to the present. This database is updated regularly with newly granted patents and applications opened to public inspection. You can search for patent documents by number, by IPC/CPC or PCT applications, availability of licence, language of filing, inventor country, owner, owner country, title, abstract, and claims’ fields. However, patents prior to 1978 can only be searched by their patent number, titles, owner, inventor, or classification.
- U.S patent and Trademark Office
Includes U.S. patents from 1790 with full-text available from 1976 to the present and applications from 2001 to the present. Has separate databases for granted and published patent applications.
Provided by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Commission, as well as a number of national and regional patent offices. Offers access to patent documents from all over the world. Most of the documents included are patent applications rather than granted patents, which represent the first publication of a new idea. Includes an online patent translator function for many languages including Chinese. Espacenet Assistant provides a tutorial for using this database.
Provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and includes access to international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications in full-text format on the day of publication, as well as to patent documents of participating national and regional patent offices. Searchable by keywords, names of applicants, and international patent classification. Features a chemical structure search functionality for registered users.
International patent database, which also includes scholarly literature (journal articles, books, theses, conference proceedings) and the ability to graphically map the relationship between scholarly work and global patent literature. Features biological sequence search, including DNA, RNA and protein search. Provides several tutorials for using this database.
- Google Patents
Search for patents from around the world, including Canada, the US, China, EPO, and WIPO. Can search by patent publication or application number, inventor, assignee, date, country, status, language, keywords, and freeform text
- DNA Patent Database
Contains a collection of full-text DNA-based patents and patent applications issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Updated weekly, it includes DNA-based patents issued from 1971 to the present and patent applications published from 2001 to the present.
Research Guide created by Tanis Schumilas, April 2018