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Within the research process patent applications are often the first published account of the invention and it may also be the only published account. About 60 % of the information described in patents are not published elsewhere.
When searching in patent databases using notations of the International Patent Classification is a good tool to find subject specific patents which are often described in the title or the patent itself very global.

Older patents are often found only when searching for the exact patent number. Search in database fields like title, inventor, abstract, notation of IPC or even full text is often only possible starting from a distinct year which depends of database and country of origin of the patent.

Patent databases

DEPATISnet – German patent information system

  • PDFs Free of charge
  • German Patents from 1877
  • US-Patents from 1790

US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

  • Free of charge, US-Patents
  • Full texts in tiff format, special viewer necessary!

Espacenet (European Patent Office)

  • Free of charge
  • German, European and world patents

International Patent Classifikation

European Patent Classification bei espacenet

  • Enhanced Version of the IPC
  • Searching for the naming of classes and notations possible

Tables of the IPC in German via Depatisnet

  • displayed with all capillary ramifications
  • searching with English keywords for the naming of notations possible

English Version of the IPC

Derwent Innovations Index von Clarivate Analytics

  • Important commercial patent database, not availbale within TUHH intranet
  • Patents world-wide

Where can I get more information and consulting?

Further informationen on the net:

A good summary from an international view: End-User Patent Searching Using Open Access Sources von Pat L

What is a patent?

A patent is an exclusive right given by law to inventors to make use of, and exploit, their inventions for a limited period of time. By granting the inventor a temporary monopoly in exchange for a full description of how to perform the invention, patents play a key role in developing industry around the world.

Why are patents an important source of information?

  • Patents report on current affairs. In the research process the patent application is often the first published account of the invention and it may also be the only published account.
  • Patents constitute a huge proportion of the world’s technical literature. 70 % of the information are not published elsewhere.
  • A patent application cannot be anonymous.
  • The patent specification must give the complete technical details of the invention containing often many further reference on the literature.
  • More than 90% of the patent literature is not granted anymore.
  • The use of patent information is important for business and law issues to secure your industrial property rights or to offend trade mark rights from other companies. By searching patents you can identify your competitors and monitor their activities (market analysis).
  • The use of patent information is important for research and development to avoid dupplication of effort (and possible infringement) in research and development, to get ideas for new products and applications, to trace the development of a technology, to find the solutions to your technical problems by getting detailed technical descriptions of products and to survey the state-of-the-art.

How to get patents?

The TUHH University Library itself does not own any patents; they may only be ordered by the staff of the Technical University without any form using the Document Delivery Department.
German and American patents can be searched free of charge in the Internet using the DEPATISnet: The electronic document archive of the DPMA.

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