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How to do a free Patent search

Whether or not you feel your idea is unique, it’s always a good idea to double-check and make sure it has never been patented before.

There are four main databases you can use to carry out free basic patent search. There is no need to pay anyone to do this… 

The IPO’s free online service, Ipsum, allows you to check the status and access data on all UK patent applications, whilst obtaining copies of available documents from the open part of published patent applications after 1st January 2008. 

Using Ipsum, it’s possible to view up-to-the-minute information on patents, see which classifications and fields of search have been used and submit observations regarding the patentability of a published patent application prior to a full patent being granted (under Section 21 Observations).

The downside to IPSUM, is that you need to know either an application or publication number to carry out the search. But once you know either of these numbers, you get to know the following information : 

  • Application Number

  • Publication Number

  • Status

  • Filing Date

  • Publication Date

  • Application Title

  • Address for Service

  • Applicant / Proprietor

  • Inventor

  • Citations

You can also do a search via the Searchable Patents Journal for new UK patent applications from 2006 and onwards. 

To search… all you have to do is :

  • Select UK Applications Published or UK Applications Granted. 

  • Select the from and to dates. 

  • Type in what you are looking for in the ‘refine’ box, and press submit.

Espacenet and the European Patent Register provides free access to more than 70 million patent documents from across the globe. It features comprehensive data on inventions and technical developments from 1836 to the present day. 

The great thing about searching via Espacenet is that you can search using the following parameters :

  • Patent number

  • Patent classification

  • Inventor or applicant name(s)

  • Keyword(s)

This means if you have invented a new ‘hair brush’, all you have to do is go-to Advanced Search and type in ‘hair brush’ in either the ‘Title’, ‘abstract’ or ‘keyword’ fields or a combination of them to see all the relevant patents.  

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) database allows you to search 52 million patent documents, including 2.9 million published international patent applications; as well as regional and national patent collections from 38 participating authorities.

There are three core methods of searching the Patentscope database:

Simple search

Here, you can submit keywords in six different fields to get the most relevant results for your search, including names, dates and ID/number.

Advanced search

The ‘Advanced Search’ functionality allows users to submit an unlimited number of keyword combinations. Queries containing field codes and Boolean expressions or keywords can also be searched for in this advanced mode.

Field combination search

Using this interface you can perform a more targeted search using specific search criteria in any search field e.g. title, abstract or description.

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