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Patents: A How-To-Find Guide

Information on locating full-text of patents granted worldwide.

Patent Search Engines: Worldwide

The search tools on this page cover patents from countries around the world, rather than just one. All are free unless otherwise noted.

Patent Search Engines: United States

The search tools on this page cover only patents from the United States. All are free unless otherwise noted.

Patent Search Engines: Non-U.S. National Sites

The search tools on this page cover patents from individual countries or limited coalitions of countries. All are free unless otherwise noted. Be aware: some sites are best searched in their native language. Even when English translations are available, they are often automatically machine-generated and may contain errors or inconsistencies.

Patent translations

Many patent documents, or at least their abstracts, are automatically translated into English using automated machine (computer) translations. If this is insufficient or a translation does not exist, the European Patent Office offers a fee-based translation service for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese patents.

Patent Equivalents

A "patent family" can be defined as all patent equivalents for a single invention. All of the published patent applications from various countries and the subsequent granted patents on an invention are commonly referred to as patent equivalents. They are not “true equivalents” in that each country may have different regulations for filing and different interpretations of the invention. It may include multiple patents in some countries because of differences in patent laws. When applying for a U.S. patent, inventors will need to know of any “prior art” which includes similar foreign patents or patent equivalents.

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Erin Thomas
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150 Parks Library
Iowa State University
515 294-9886