Skip to Main Content

ENGR 1041/1051: Introduction to Engineering


Google Patents

Coverage: US, WIPO & European patents (USPTO back to 1790, WIPO & EPO back to 1978), US & European published patent applications, includes 'Find Prior Art' option to search multiple sources (Patents, Books, Scholar, web) and fine tune by inventor (People facet) as well as dates.

  • Searches patents and applications at the same time.
  • Prior art finder.
  • Better for keyword searching; classification and date searching can be unreliable.
  • OCR is problematic and not all patents are listed (in spite of there being no disclaimer).
  • Pre-1976 patents are not reclassified, so classification won't have been updated as classifications evolve. Patents can be bought and sold and pre-1976 patents will only show the original assignee.


  • Awful interface; search syntax is clunky 
  • Currently granted patents and applications are in separate databases
  • New public search system planned for 2017 that will combine searching for granted patents, pending applications, and patents from other countries
  • Most up-to-date; new patents and applications are published every Tuesday
  • Recent change to Cooperative Classification System - more in line with international patent classifications
  • Classification and date searching is more reliable
  • Keyword/full-text searching is not possible on pre-1976 patents
  • Most reliable interface for full-text searching on post-1976 patents and post-2001 applications


  • Covers 90 million documents from 92 different countries; includes backfiles from many countries
  • Searches issued patents and published applications simultaneously
  • Reliable classification and date searching
  • Full-text is not searchable; if an abstract is available in English, the abstract can be searched by keyword
  • Coverage can be spotty, translations are not perfect
  • One of the more user-friendly databases with a good help/support section
  • Historic patents have been reclassified with CPC


  • Field combination search offers extensive field searching
  • Searches across patent families, not individual documents
  • Patent family is the group of patents and patent applications for a single invention. If a patent has been applied for in multiple countries, they are grouped together.
  • Translation utility to translate abstracts
  • Cross Lingual Expansion feature will translate your query into different language to search foreign language patents rather than searching English translations
  • Also suggests synonyms and related terms.
  • Uses International Patent Classification system
  • Limited full text

Derwent Innovations Index

  • Patent applications and granted patents from around the world
  • 1963 to 2015, although coverage may be spotty before 1976
  • Links to cited and citing patents
  • Result page is a more straightforward summary of the abstract, including the use and advantage of the patent, with links to the full patent
  • May include "Equivalent Abstract" prepared by Derwent - a patent that relates to the invention and shares the same priority application date as a patent from a different issuing authority. It may be an exact duplicate that was issued by a different authority.
  • Search by keyword (topic), title, inventor, patent number, International Patent Classification, Derwent Class Code, Derwent Manual Code, Derwent Primary Accession Number, Assignee (name), and refine by inventor and subject area.
  • Refining options are particularly helpful