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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
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 further assistance?
If you need help with finding information, then please contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for advice.
Citing a patent
Elements to include:
- Year of publication (in round brackets)
- Title (in italics)
- Authorising organisation
- Patent number
- If online - Available at: URL (Accessed: date)
Reference list: Cox, A. and Lee, J. (2021) Water remediation system. UK Intellectual Property Office Patent no. GB2591282A. Available at: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/ (Accessed: 2 September 2021)
In-text citation: (Cox and Lee, 2021)
Reference list: Kruger, L.H. (1989) Degradation of granular starch. US Patent no.: US4838944.
In-text citation: (Kruger, 1989)