Top 3 Free Patent tools: Choosing the right one for your Patent search

Whether you have an idea and want to check if it already exists before filing a patent application, you need to insure there is no existing patent restricting you from producing, or selling a product. You might even try to find a specific patent or application – a preliminary patent search is recommended before contacting a professional search service

The web provides countless free patent search tools. In this article we will review the top 3 free patent search tools to conduct searchespatent search tools, assess and analyse each tool’s pros and cons, thus helping you to choose the best patent search tool for your needs.

 

Espacenet 

Overview:

A database platform developed by the European Patent Office (EPO). Most countries in Europe have an Espacenet service in their national language. As of 2021 the service claimed to have records on more than 120 million patent documents from around the world, and cover information about published patent applications from over 90 patent-granting authorities. Espacenet allows you to conduct full-text searches in English, French, or German. The EPO receives its data from the patent-granting authorities and cannot give a 100% guarantee to its accuracy. Abstracts published in a language other than English, are usually translated into English, unless there are English abstracts already available for patent family members. 

 

Espacenet provide you coverage and access to:

  • 120> million patent documents from around the world (approved patents, patent applications and journal articles).
  • Full texts and drawings for most of the above.
  • Examiners search report and opinion.
  • Prior art document(citing the patent/application, or cited by the inventor/patent examiner in the patent/patent application)
  • Patent family information. 
  • Legal status information.
  • Links to the European Patent Register for European and Euro-PCT documents and to selected national patent registers.
  • Global Dossier links to the file wrapper for US, Canada, WIPO, Chinese, Japanese and Korean patent applications.

Espacenet provide you with search capabilities comprising of: 

  • Keyword and number searching for multiple fields, using boolean terms/ operators – title abstract and full text (description and claims), application number, priority number, publication number, publication date, inventor, applicant, International Patent Classification (IPC), Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC).
  • Link to PDF.
  • Easy navigation between documents (text and drawings) in a search query.
  • Easy navigation between document citations.
  • Sort functions: publication date, priority date, inventor, applicant, and CPC. Results can be ordered by newest or oldest etc.
  • Export results to CSV/XLS. 
  • Save patents lists and query history.
  • Highlighted text.

 

Espacenet does not provide:

  • Guarantee that the data is totally up to date, i.e. when looking at a patent status, the user must check the national register to obtain the most updated information.
  • A thumbnail display of a query search results.
  • Synonym search.
  • Chemical compound search.

 

free patent tools

 

Google Patents

Overview:

Among the free patent tools available, Google’s own solution is probably the one that most people would have heard of. Google Patents is a search engine launched in 2006 that indexes patents and patent applications. As of 2021 Google Patents includes over 120 million patent publications, as well as many more technical documents and books, indexed in Google Scholar and Google Books, and also documents from the Prior Art Archive. It covers information from more than 100 patent authorities around the world (currently indexes full-text documents from the following patent offices and authorities : EPO, WIPO, United States, Japan, China, South Korea,, Russia, Germany, UK, Canada, France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland and Taiwan).

US patents from 1790 were also scanned via OCR. Patents with only non-English text have been machine translated to English and indexed, allowing English keywords search.

 

Google Patents provide you coverage and access to:

  • 120< million patent documents from around the world (approved patents, patent applications and journal articles).
  • Full texts and illustrations (for most of the above).
  • Examiner search reports and opinions (for most of the above).
  • Document citations (citing the patent/application, or cited by the inventor/patent examiner in the patent/application)
  • Patent family information. 
  • Legal status information.
  • Links to Espacenet, Global Dossier, PatentScope.

 

Google Patents provide you with search capabilities comprising of: 

  • Keyword search for multiple fields – same as Espacenet (title, full text, classification, date etc.) and in adition  country, status, language, chemistry compounds and molecules coding/indexing systems  (SMILES – simplified molecular-input line-entry system, SMART – SMILES arbitrary target specification, InChI keys etc.).
  • Synonym search. 
  • Similar documents. 
  • Results can be ordered by relevance and date. 
  • Results can be grouped by classification.
  • Graphs of the top five assignees, inventors and CPCs. You can download a CSV file containing the top 1,000 results.
  • Thumbnail image display of query search results – allowing quick review of document illustrations.
  • Link to PDF.
  • Highlighted text.

 

Google Patents  does not provide you with:

  • A guarantee that data presented is totally up-to-date, i.e. when examining the patent status, the user must check the national register to obtain the most up-to-date information.
  • Easy navigation between documents (text and drawings), in each search query.
  • Easy navigation between document citations.
  • Search and query history.
  • Export functions.



PATENTSCOPE

Overview:

The Patentscope research service is a database launched in July 2005, by the World Intellectual Property Organization. As of 2021 Patentscope includes over 93 million patent documents, including 4< million published international patent applications (PCT), from over 65 patent-granting authorities.

 

PATENTSCOPE provide you coverage and access to:

  • 93< million patent documents from around the world.
  • Full texts and illustrations (for most of the above).
  • Examiner’s search report and opinions (for most of the above).
  • Prior art document (citing the patent/application or cited by the inventor/patent examiner in the patent/application)
  • Patent family information. 
  • Legal status information.
  • Links to Global Dossier.

 

PATENTSCOPE provide you with search capabilities comprising of: 

  • Keyword search for multiple fields – same as Espacenet (title, full text, classification, date etc.) and search by chemical structure.
  • Sort functions: publication date, priority date, inventor, applicant and CPC. Results can be ordered by date etc.
  • Thumbnail image display of query search results – allowing quick review of document illustrations.
  • Save your customized configuration. 
  • Save your queries and query tree. 
  • Download results list.
  • •Link to PDF.
  • Export results to CSV/XLS.
  • Highlighted text.

 

PATENTSCOPE  does not provide you with:

  • A guarantee that the presented data is totally up-to-date, i.e., when examining the patent status, the user must check the national register to obtain the most up-to-date information. 
  • Synonym search.
  • Easy navigation between documents (text and drawings), in each search query.
  • Easy navigation between document citations.



Summary 

 

This article does not presume to be a full review of these search tools, but rather a general overview of each tool’s main features, strengths and weaknesses. The 3 patent tools are quite similar with minor differences, suited for most queries, except for chemistry queries which are not included in Espacement. A comparative summary of the main features, is presented in the below table.

 

Main features Summary table:



Features 

Espacenet 

Google Patents 

PATENTSCOPE

Search Authorities

90<

100<

65<

Number of patent documents (in millions)

120<

120<

93<

Keywords, nominal field search 

Smart search (synonyms, similar docs etc.)

Chemistry compound search

Search history

Graphing / Analysis

Export results to CSV/XLS

Highlighted text

Thumbnail image display

Easy navigation through query results

Guaranteed up-to-date legal information



Further reading

 

https://is.espacenet.com/help?locale=en_IS&method=handleHelpTopic&topic=coverageww

https://is.espacenet.com/help?locale=en_IS&method=handleHelpTopic&topic=fulltext

https://www.epo.org/searching-for-patents/technical/espacenet.html

https://support.google.com/faqs/answer/7049585?hl=en

https://wipo-analytics.github.io/databases.html

https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/patents/434/wipo_pub_l434_03.pdf