UTS Library


Reasons to search patents

IP Australia has a good explanation of why patents search is needed. In general, there are four reasons:

  • patentability search: to find out if an invention has already been patented, or if there are any existing inventions that are similar or share aspects of the invention.
  • freedom to operate search: to check if any patents on a product to be manufactured have expired in order to avoid licensing or litigation.
  • mining search or landscape search: to find a company to form a partnership or license of an invention. These companies are easily identified by the number of recent patents that they hold, or the number of pending applications that they have filed, in the given class of technology.
  • state-of-the-art search: patent applications are published for public review 18 months after their filing dates, and often contain the most cutting-edge documentation available for research. Some researchers may use patents as primary sources for their research in addition to other types of non-patent literature (journal articles, conference papers, technical reports, etc.).

Free resources to find patents

IP Australia - AusPat

Search Australian patents. IP Australia also provides paid service for patent analytics reports.

Google Patents

Coverage: JP, CN, US, EP, WO, DE, GB, KR, FR, CA, ES, RU, NL, FI, DK, LU, BE. (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.

Google has a unique “Prior Art Finder" built in that would search non-patent sources for information that are related to a given patent.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)- Patentscope

Coverage: Patent Cooperative Treaty (PCT) applications, published patents, related correspondence from 42+ countries. Also includes the national collections of many of its member countries, including the entire U.S. backfile. Patentscope has around 47 million combined patent documents from its member countries.

Patentscope has a translation utility for translating abstracts from/to English, French, German, Japanese and Chinese.

European Patent Office (EPO)- Espacenet

Coverage: Espacenet covers close to 100 million documents from 92 different countries, including complete backfiles from many (including non-European) countries. Most documents in Espacenet have an English translation of the abstract, but not of the full text.

Espacenet is designed to be more user-friendly, has a large back-file of older patents, and has patents from many national offices not represented in Patentscope.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

USPTO has the most up-to-date set of U.S. patents and patent applications, published every Tuesday.

Free Patents Online (FPO)

FPO indexes and make searchable all the same fields used by the USPTO but offers a much user-friendly interface.

More information on patent searching


Understand patent information


•Inventor(s)- who invented the patent
•Applicant(s)- who holds the rights of exclusive use of a patent



description of the claimed invention and related developments in the field of technology

Why and how

list of claims indicating the scope of patent protection sought by the applicant.


Priority Date in Priority Number: the date when a patent application is firstly filed at a patent office. Once the patent is granted, the inventor will have the exclusive right to use his invention from the filing date.
-A standard patent lasts for up to 20 years.
-An innovation patent only lasts for up to eight years.
-Pharmaceutical patents can last up to 25 years.
•Legal status: grant, application, withdrawn, expired, abandoned, etc.



Patents are territorially limited, in application number or publication number, Country codes  means in which countries the patent is protected.
•WIPO covers 153 countries and states now, a patent with WO in publication number is protected worldwide within 30 months of filing date, more information is available on WIPO website.


Applying for patents in Australia

  1. There are different ways to protect your invention and intellectual properties, including patents, trade secret, trademarks, designs,  decide if patent is the right choice for you.   
  2. Conduct a patentability research by yourself or hire IP professionals to do this for you,  make sure your invention doesn’t infringe someone else's patent. 
  3. Understand the costs and time of patent applications.
  4. Decide which patent type you want to apply:
    - A standard patent lasts for up to 20 years.
    - An innovation patent only lasts for up to eight years.
    - Pharmaceutical patents can last up to 25 years.
  5. File your application at IP Australia  or hire a patent attorney to do the job for you.
IP Australia and WIPO explain more information of applying patent in Australia and International.

Need help?

General information: IP Australia

For UTS staff: IP and Commercialisation at UTS (requires staff login)