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Introduction to Patents: Searching for Patents

The information and resources presented on this library guide are intended to support academic purposes of patent searching at Khalifa University. None of the information provided should be considered as legal advice.

Google Patents

Google Patent Search

How to Patents Look Like?

Excellent descriptions of Canadian and US patent documents. (Queens University Library).

Patent Classification Systems

Patent Analytics

Why Search for Patents?

If you are an inventor, you should be aware of relevant "prior art" in your areas. Term “prior art” is patent term meaning – Is there proof that the idea exists in the public domain somewhere?

If you are an entrepreneur, you should monitor your competitors' new products, and where they are patented.

If you are a researcher involved in applied research, you need to review new and pending patents in your discipline.

If you are an engineer, you should look for ideas to improve your workplace.

If you are student, patent can explain how something works. Patents offer great diagrams and detailed explanation.


Patents are always the first place to look. Over 80% of the information contained in recent patent literature is not published elsewhere.

What not to Expect from a Patent Search?

Challenges of patent literature search:

  • Patents aren't a true form of scientific literature as they are not subject to peer review and are not required to demonstrate proof of success through experiments and other processes usually associated with scientific research.


  • Patents don't describe inventions as they appear in the market.  Patents may cover broader concepts and they don't specify the final packaging, detailing, manufacturing processes, trademarked names, and other aspects of products.


  • Patents don't include product names.  Searching patents by names of products, whether e.g.Blackberry mobile devices, rarely provides a direct path to the invention in question.  Final product names are often determined long after patents are filed. Product names are protected by trademarks rather than patents.  In addition, the final product may be an amalgamation of several patents.   So searching patents for, lets say, Apple's iPad requires knowing that the relevant patent was titled “Proximity detector in hand-held device." 


  • Patents aren't easy to read.  Patents are legal documents and usually written by attorneys for analysis by patent examiners.  They lack the directness of specifications, technical standards, or other types of descriptive documents.  They often employ a specific legal terminology.


Patent Search Engines

U.S. Patent Full Text and Images Database  

Includes full text and full image U.S. patents and patent applications.

Google Patents 

Search and display U.S. patents 1790 to within the last few months. Powers Google Book Search, with the ability to scroll and zoom in on text and illustrations. Does not include published applications.


Search International patent search with full images in PDF format.

SciFinder Web - Chemical Abstracts Service

1907 - Present: for searching chemical and chemical engineering literature including patents.

Includes PatentCites which enables users to view citations from patent sources that cite Scopus articles on the Abstract and References page. Scopus Indexes over 15,000 journals, as well as several million web pages and U.S. and international patents. The database includes article citations from 1996. It offers citation tracking, saving searches, and receiving email or RSS alerts of new material. The system will export records into major citation managers and prepare a bibliography according to major formats.

Other Free Sources of Patent

Free Patents Online – free patent search website

Patent Lens
search and retrieve the full-text of over ten million patent documents from US, Europe, Australia and WIPO, their status and counterparts up to 70 countries

Intellogist – some very useful free, online patent tools