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Patent resources

Last Updated: 14-Dec-2014

A listing of selected online and print resources for research in intellectual property and patent literature.  If you are having problems choosing a tool or developing a search strategy, please contact one of the Science and Engineering Group librarians for help.

Subject Librarians

Kathleen Gust
Engineering Librarian for Outreach Instruction and Electronic Resources
(650) 723-8877
Grace Baysinger
Head Librarian and Bibliographer of the Swain Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library
(650) 725-1039
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About patents

What is a patent?

"A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

There are three types of patents.

  • Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.
  • Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
  • Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant."

Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office > Patents

Patent databases

[Philadelphia] : Institute for Scientific Informtion, [1999?]-
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
"Using information from 41 patent-issuing authorities, DII facilitates rapid, precise patent searching, letting you conduct patent and citation searches of inventions in chemical, electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineering. Descriptive titles and indexing have been added. Find “equivalent” patents published in a language you can read. Also contains both citing and cited patents and literature references, allowing users to move both forward and backward in time from a selected patent. Updated weekly, covers 1963-present." (Structure Searching)
[Place of publication not identified] : European Patent Office.
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
"Espacenet's worldwide database enables you to search for information about published patent applications from over 90 different countries and regions. Espacenet offers free access to more than 70 million patent documents worldwide--most of them patent applications rather than granted patents--from 1836 today. Patent applications normally represent the first publication of a new idea, appearing ahead of journal articles and before new products reach the market. It is possible to print and download full-text documents."
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Official Seal
Washington, DC : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Information Products Division,
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
The Official Gazette (OG) is the official journal of the USPTO, published weekly on Tuesday, that includes bibliographic information and a representative drawing for each patent granted or trademark published on that issue date.  There is a separate Official Gazette for Patents and Official Gazette for Trademarks, and the most recent 52 issues for each are available online.   Print copies of the Official Gazette are also available: Official Gazette 1872-1971, Official Gazette 1971-1975, and Official Gazette 1975-2002.

Subject databases

They include patents that fit within the scope of coverage.

[New York?] : Thomson Reuters.
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
Biosis is a comprehensive source for life sciences and biomedical research from nearly 6,000 life sciences journals plus abstracts from meetings, books and patents. Search options include using taxonomy, MeSH, CAS registry numbers, Sequence Databank Numbers, and Major Concepts. Updated weekly, covers 1926--present. Cited reference searching finds more recent works that cite an earlier document of interest
Engineering Village
Hoboken, N.J. : Elsevier Engineering Information, Inc.
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
Engineering Village is an information discovery platform that includes access to two databases at Stanford. Compendex (Computerized Engineering Index) is the most comprehensive bibliographic database of scientific and technical engineering research available, covering all engineering disciplines. It includes millions of bibliographic citations and abstracts from thousands of engineering journals and conference proceedings. When combined with the Engineering Index Backfile (1884-1969), Compendex covers well over 120 years of core engineering literature.
Lexis nexis academic
[Miamisburg, OH] : LexisNexis, division of Reed Elsevier
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
Provides access to various databases, including current news, business information, company directories, federal and state laws, regulations, legal cases, medical and references.  Includes full-text of U.S. Patents from mid-1970's, patent case law and administrative decisions, patent statutory and regulatory materials, and patent news and publications.  Search by Content Type and choose Patents.
[Frankfurt, Germany ; New York, NY] : Elsevier
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
Available via the web, Reaxys Xcelerate contains an extensive repository of experimentally validated data that chemists need including structures, reactions (including multi-step reactions) and physical properties. Reaxys was formed by the merger of three databases: Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry, Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry, and the Chemistry Patent database. (Structure and Reaction Searching)
[Columbus, Ohio : American Chemical Society, Chemical Abstracts Service]
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
SciFinder is the most comprehensive database for coverage of chemistry & chemical engineering. It has the world's largest collection of organic and inorganic substance information. The web version of SciFinder provides integrated access to CAPlus, CAS Registry, CASREACT, CHEMLIST, and CHEMCATS which are produced by Chemical Abstracts Service, and to MEDLINE which is produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Sources covered in SciFinder include 10,000 journals, patents from 63 patent authorities, book chapters, conference proceedings, dissertations, evaluated reference works, technical reports, as well as book reviews and biographical information. (Structure and Reaction Searching)
[New York] : Elsevier, 2004-
Stanford University Libraries » Online resource » (no call number)
"Updated daily, Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. It also includes web sources, patents, articles in-press, book series, conference proceedings, and trade publications. Scopus provides international coverage of literature in science, technology, and medicine, and social sciences plus related content in the arts and humanities. 1996-present plus selected coverage back to 1823."

Scopus offers a patent search of over 24 million records from WIPO, EPO, USPTO, JPO and the UK.  Do your search and after you have results, look for "view patents results" above the search result list.  When you select it, Scopus will open another window with only the patents.  A partial preview of the abstract is available by mousing over the patent title.  Links will take you from Scopus to the patent repository where the full text can be downloaded.

Patent classification

Patent search tools

Patent Offices

Technology transfer

Stanford's Office of Technology Licensing - Innovation Inspiration

The Stanford's Office of Technology Licensing was established in 1970 to transfer technologies developed at Stanford.  Video about Stanford's OTL including interviews with inventors and technology transfer professionals. Conversations on the unique environment and interactions here promoting the transfer of great ideas from the laboratories to industry where they can be developed into useful products.