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Finding Patent Full Text: Finding Patent Full Text

This guide teaches methods of retrieving the full text of a patent using Derwent Innovations Index, Esp@cenet, the U.S. Patent Office, and Patent Lens.

Need a Patent?

There are multiple resources for finding the full text of a patent using the patent number, patent title, and/or inventor. Depending on what you're looking for, you can retrieve patent full text from four different databases: Derwent Innovations Index, Espacenet, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Lens.

Choose a database

The first resource to check is Derwent Innovations Index, it contains over 11 million patents from over 40 worldwide patent offices, including full text for many.

If you're looking for a WIPO application, a European patent, a U.S. patent after the 1820s, or newer patents from various Asian countries including China, Japan, and Korea, use Espacenet. Espacenet is run by the European Patent Office, containing html full text of European and worldwide patents back to the 1970s and page images going back to the 1800s.

If you're looking for a U.S. patent not in Espacenet or wish to do full-text searching of US patents issued after 1976, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This covers all U.S. patents from 1790 onwards. Only 10 full-text downloads a day are allowed. Full text is available in HTML format and PDF format (using the Patent Fetcher).

Using Patent Databases: General Tips

  • Search using the patent number whenever possible. Some databases rewrite the original title and abstract in their records, but the patent number stays the same. Most patent databases are searchable by patent number. 
  • Unless specified otherwise, include the country code letters at the beginning of the patent number. Do not include a space between the country code and the patent number.
  • The letter and number appearing at the end of some patent numbers, known as the "kind code", can be omitted from most patent searches.
  • The author of a patent is called the "Inventor."  The individual, institution, or organization to whom the patent rights have been granted is called the "Assignee" or "Applicant."
  • If an inventor submits an application for the same invention in different countries, the applications and resulting patents constitute a patent family.  For scientists, patents within the same family can be almost identical, as the science itself will not change, and you can often read an English-language family member in order to get the gist of a patent that you have identified in a language you cannot read.  However, one should be aware of certain exceptions to this general rule.
    • An application must be valid under the patenting laws of each country, which may result in differing claims in the different patent family members; for example, U.S. patents cannot include nuclear weaponry, so a patent for nuclear technology may include weaponry applications in other countries but not in the U.S.
    • For medical research, the differences between patent family members are important because the laws of different countries are markedly different in these fields. An English-language version can useful to decide whether it's worth it to get a version of the patent in another language translated, but it should not be substituted for the other family member.
    • If patent families are relevant to you, Derwent and Espacenet provide the best family information.

Subject Guide

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Judith Currano
1973 Wing, Chemistry Laboratories
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(215) 898-7555