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Patents, standards, and technical reports

Specialized resources for finding patents, standards, and technical reports

What is a patent?

In exchange for the complete disclosure of an invention, a patent grants the applicant the exclusive right to make, use, or sell the claimed invention for a limited period of time. Patents and patent applications are a great way to learn about an industry or technology. Much of the information in patents will not be available elsewhere.

If you are interested in learning about patents or would like help conducting searches, please contact us.

Are you interested in artificial intelligence? Visit the PATENTSCOPE Artificial Intelligence Index.


Multi-national patent databases

  • Derwent Innovations Index - recommended resource for searching on a topic (covers >50 worldwide patent-issuing authorities)
  • Google Patents
  • Espacenet - provided by the European Patent Office (EPO)
  • Patentscope - provided by the World Intellectual Patent Office (WIPO) 
  • SciFinder - recommended resource for chemistry and related patents (covers 63 worldwide patent-issuing authorities)
  • The Lens - includes a scholar search to find citations in patents


National and regional patent information sources

Searching the patent literature

Concept-based searching

In order to pull up all relevant patents, it is important to search by concepts. Terminology is always changing and varies around the world.

  • Visit our concept mapping guide to learn how to extract the main concepts and map out knowledge around an invention.
  • Try out a concept mapping software, like the freely available CmapTools (more information here).
  • Brainstorm synonyms, antonyms and alternative ways of capturing each concept.
  • Build a search by combining different terms for a concept with "OR". Here is an example for teapots (the * or truncation symbol can represent any letter and picks up the plural, teapots):
    1. teapot*
    2. tea OR teas 
    3. pot OR pots OR pottery
    4. #2 AND #3 
    5. #1 OR #4
  • Take advantage of patent classification codes. For example, A47G 19/14 is the IPC code for "Coffee or tea pots" and can be added to the above search.

@ McGill Library


More books on patents @ McGill Library.


World patent information (major peer-reviewed journal)

Learning online

Disclosing an invention

Research professionals from McGill University may consult the Research and Innovation website for information on disclosing an invention and investigating its commercialization potential.

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