Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
What is a patent?
A patent gives a person a unique and legal right to make, use or sell their invention within a jurisdiction (or jurisdictions) for a fixed period of time. The patent is granted in return for full disclosure of the details of the invention.
Patents are useful sources for:
- current awareness of technological advances
- checking that your proposed invention is unique
- identifying trends in technology
- full and practical descriptions of technologies
- references to other publication.
Free sources of patents
The Espacenet database contains the bibliographic data and images of more than 80 million patent documents worldwide. It incorporates the former The Great Britain esp@cenet database, which covers GB patent applications published by the UK Intellectual Property Office since 4 January 1979.
Find US Patents, US applications and European Patents.
Library databases giving references to patents
Getting hold of the full-text of patents
The Library does not hold any patents.
If you need a patent that is not available online contact the British Library Patents section.
British Library Patents section
In addition to their collection of British patents, they hold the most comprehensive range of patent specifications and related material in the world. Since 1855 patents and related material from numerous countries have been collected and now include 47 million patent specifications from over 40 authorities. Numerous gazettes and much support literature, as well as an increasing number of electronic databases, facilitate greater access to the collection through subject, name and classification searches.
Need more help?
If you need help with finding information, then please contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for advice.