What Is Google Patents Search?

Search for Local and International Patents, Scholarly Works, and More

Rube Goldberg Machine
Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

Google Patents is a search engine launched in 2006 that lets you search through millions of patents from over a dozen patent offices including United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and those of other countries. You can use Google Patents for free through patents.google.com.

Originally, Google Patents contained data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which are public (the filing and information about the patent is in the public domain). As the specialized search engine has grown, Google has added data from other countries, making it a useful international patent search.

The integrated patent search goes beyond basic patent searches and includes Google Scholar information in a patent search. This will provide a more comprehensive search that includes a wide range of scholarly literature and publications, such as peer-reviewed academic books and journals, dissertations, theses, conference papers, technical reports, as well as court opinions.

Also integrated with the search is a search for prior art, which goes beyond patents that exist physically or have been made commercially available. Prior art includes any evidence that the invention searched has been described or shown in some form, or has been contained in another technology or invention.

Google Patents shows patents from countries that include Japan, Canada, the United States, Germany, Denmark, Russia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, China, South Korea, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Finland, and Luxembourg. It also catalogs WO patents, also known as World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO patents are international patents covering multiple countries by United Nations treaty.

You can read more about WIPO patents and search the available WIPO database directly. Searching the WIPO database directly is also a great way to see why Google Patents is so useful.

Information Available from Google Patents

Google lets you view a summary of the patent claims or the entire image itself. Users can also download a PDF of the patent or search for prior art.

Basic information in a Google Patent search includes:

  • Legal status of a patent
  • Patent's expiration
  • Application number
  • Owner (both the original and current owner)
  • Date the patent was granted
  • Citations within the patent
  • Patent abstract (a short description of what the patent is claiming)
  • Full description of the patent
  • Specific claims made in the patent

Advanced Google Patents Search Options

If you need to fine-tune your search criteria or perform a more specific type of search, you can use Google Patent's Advanced Patent Search options. You can enable these options before you perform a search, and they allow you to search only current patents, or those from within a specified date range; patents from a specific inventor or country; the patent title or patent number; classification, and more. The user interface is straightforward and utilitarian, allowing you to tailor your search for greater accuracy and to drill down for specific research.

Once you make a regular search, you can further filter the results with additional advanced options, such as by language and patent type.