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Physical & Digital Collections

Official Publications: Finding Patents

A guide to the official publications collections held within the Cambridge University Libraries.

Patents banner in brown with image of an old train faded into the background

Where to search

Cambridge patent resources

The Lens Institutional Toolkit covers over 100 million patent documents from around the world. It provides access to nearly all of the patent documents in the world as open, annotatable digital public goods that are integrated with scholarly and technical literature along with regulatory and business data. All Institutional Users (e.g. staff and students at the University of Cambridge) can also access an Institutional User API Plan while logged in as an institutional user. Register for an account with your Cambridge email for institutional user access to the API.

Derwent Innovations Index facilitates rapid, precise patent searching, letting you conduct patent and citation searches of inventions in chemical, electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineering. This resource merges the value-added patent information from Derwent World Patents Index® with the patent citation information from Derwent Patent Citation Index®.

An A-Z selection of other free patent search tools

  • African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Search System - The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) regional IP database includes information on patents, industrial designs, utility models, copyright and plant varieties from 20 African countries. ARIPO also works with member states to provide IP protection for traditional knowledge.
  • Canadian Patent Database - The Canadian Patent Database contains all Canadian patents (both applications and granted patents) since 1924. Contains only bibliographic data, titles and images. No abstracts or claims data are available for patents granted prior to August 15, 1978.
  • CNIPA Patent Search and Analysis - The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) offers a free search engine for Chinese patent information. Click "English" for the English language version of the site.
  • DESIGN view (DS View) - Search over 18 million designs from across European Union and beyond.
  • Espacenet. European Patent Office patent search tool with access to information about inventions and technical developments from the 19th century to the present. How to use espacenet video.
  • Google Patents - Search and read the full text of patents from around the world. Use Advanced Search for for specialized searches
  • IPSUM | Intellectual Property Office - An online service which lets you check the status and access information on UK patent applications.
  • Japan Platform for Patent Information (J-PlatPat) - Provides information on Japanese patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks. Machine-generated English translations are available.
  • Korea Industrial Property Rights Information Services (KIPRIS) - Covers domestic and foreign industrial property information such as patents, utility models, trademarks, and designs owned by the Korean Intellectual Property Office
  • pat2pdf - This is a free website that will allow you to enter a U.S. patent number and retrieve a PDF version of the patent.
  • PATENTSCOPE - Patent search tool from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Includes cross-lingual information retrieval and machine translation for several languages. Searches worldwide patents and links to documents in their national databases.
  • Prior Art Archive - Developed as a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab, Cisco, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), this open-access repository archives prior art in a variety of formats, including Word documents, web pages, Excel spreadsheets, images, and videos.
  • USPTO database - United States Patent and Trademark Office patent search.

Ways to search for patents

  • By patent number - if you know the patent number, you can nearly always quickly pull up the full-text patent using free tools that are available online.
  • Inventor, owner or asignee name - in some tools, such as The Lens or espacenet, you can limit your search to certain fields (including assignee, inventor, owner, and so on) to quickly retrieve relevant patents.
  • Keyword - this is useful for finding patents in certain subject areas.
  • Classification - using the Cooperative Patent Classification you can quickly locate patents for that type of item regardless of the terminology used in the patent. This will often find patents missed by a keyword search.

Further help for patent searching

Patents and academic databases

A number of databases provided by the University of Cambridge also include patent information.

Scopus is a large abstract and citation database. As well are articles, it holds details of 28 million patents from five patent offices US Patent & Trademark Office, European Patent Office, Japan Patent Office, World Intellectual Property Organization, UK Intellectual Property Office. To find patents, run a search as normal and you will find  Patents at the top of your results list.


Scopus screenshot


Dimensions is a comprehensive collection of  linked data in a single platform; from grants, publications, datasets and clinical trials to patents and policy documents. You can currently search over 143 million patents. To access the patents, sign in with your Cambridge email and run a search you will find  Patents at the top of your results list.

Dimensions patent search

Citing Patents

How to Cite a Patent has links to show how to cite a patent in different citation formats.

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