Here's What Google Patents Search Can Do for You

Search Local and International Patents for Free

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 domain (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.

Google Patents currently shows patents from Japan, Canada, the United States, Germany, Denmark, Russia, UK, Belgium, China, and other countries. 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.

Basic 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:

  • When the patent expires or expired
  • The application number
  • The owner (both the original and current)
  • The date the patent was granted
  • The citations within the patent
  • The abstract (a short description of what the patent is claiming)
  • The full description of the patent
  • The specific claims made in the patent

Advanced Google Patents Search Options

In addition to basic patent searches, you can include Google Scholar information in a patent search for a more comprehensive search of both scholarly writing and patents.

You can enable that option from the Google Patents homepage before you perform a search.

If you need to search advanced options within Google Patents, such as finding only current patents or those from a specific inventor or country, use Advanced Patent Search. The user interface is not as slick as a basic Google Patents search but you can use it to drill down for specific research.

Once you make a regular search, you can even filter the results with some of the advanced options including the language and patent type.