This is the "Patent Searching Strategy" page of the "Patents" guide.
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Last Updated: Feb 6, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Patent Searching Strategy Print Page

Starting your patent search

The most up-to-date patent search source on the internet is the

United States Patent and Trademark Office Database

This is the recommended source for starting your patent search.  It is updated once a week on Tuesdays, as the U.S. government issues patents on this schedule.

PROS: most complete and up-to-date source

CONS: documents are served as TIFF images; issued patents and patent applications must be searched separately


Downloading patent documents

Once you have identified patents in the USPTO database, note the patent number.  For example:


The most convenient way to get the patent document as a PDF is to search

Google Patents

PROS: provides familiar search interface; provides patent documents as PDFs

CONS: not as up-to-date as the USPTO database

Other sources to try

If you are unable to find your patent document in Google Patents or the USPTO, here are some other options to try.

Search patent databases

Listed below are the most useful databases for patent research

  • USPTO Patent Database
    Full text of U.S. patents and patent applications
  • Espacenet
    Provides access to worldwide patent information
    Using PATENTSCOPE you can search 35 million patent documents including 2.2 million published international patent applications (PCT).

Researching patents by topic

Researching how many patents have been issued on a particular technology can be tricky business.  Keyword searching can be very imprecise, as you are likely to find many patents that merely mention the name of that technology somewhere in the text.

To discover how many patents have been issued on a particular technology, it is best to use the

Index to the United States Patent Classification system

PROS: fine-grained classification by subject means you can be sure you are finding patents on a particular technology

CONS: difficult to use index; we suggest you consult with a librarian for assistance with this type of search


Obtaining hard copies of patents

How do you obtain a patent that is not available on the internet?  What if the quality of the technical drawings is not adequate on the electronic version?  If you are located in the Rochester area, you can visit our official local patent resource center:

Carlson Patent and Trademark Center at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

In addition to public resources on researching and filing patents, the Carlson Patent and Trademark Center collects all U.S. patent documents.

If you are not located in the Rochester area, please consult the USPTO web site for the location of the nearest patent and trademark resource center.

Patent Searching Tutorials

GCCIS Librarian Profile

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Roman Koshykar
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Engineering Librarian

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Linette Koren
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