Friday, 17 April 2009

Patent Searching Using the Espacenet database

Basic guidance for anyone wanting to search the largest free database of patent information on the internet:

Patent Searching

It is important to understand that no searching of any kind can ever be deemed completely foolproof – and lack of understanding of search techniques and how patent documents work often leads to incomplete results. Databases such as Espacenet are not intended as comprehensive search tools and should be regarded as a starting point only. However, as this database is free time spent checking through it could save a lot of money at a later stage, and should not be rushed.

Searching a Subject Area

Choose Advanced Search from the list on the left. When the page opens ensure that the database at 1 is set to “Worldwide” (existing patents filed in any country can be a threat to you even if you’re just intending to apply for a British patent).

Go to the second box down – Keywords in title or abstract. The keywords are those words which you feel best describe what is new, or different about your invention. It is important to search both the title and abstract as patent titles on their own are often vague.

Remember to think of synonyms – you might decide to use the word “car”, but if an existing patent has described the invention as relating to a “vehicle” your search will miss it. Therefore you must try to think of all the alternatives.

Use truncation (wildcards) where you can. Using the word “vehicle” in your search will find patents which use that exact word only. However, using the truncation symbol (*) can widen your search – “vehic*” will find patents which use the words vehicle, vehicles, vehicular and any other variations.

For more detailed guidance on-line, use the Espacenet Assistant.

Alternatively, contact staff at Business & Patent Information Services and we will be happy to help. As well as assistance with Espacenet, we can provide information on the patenting process and also offer more comprehensive searches using commercial databases.

Business and Patent Information Services
2nd Floor
Central Library
Calverley Street

Tel: 0113 2478266
Fax: 0113 2478268