Top 3 Free Patent Search Databases – Latest Updates

It’s been about a year since I left the intellectual property field, and I know that patent search tools can change very quickly, with new updates usually added on a monthly or quarterly basis. I’m just starting to try to catch up on the latest patent search news, and one good place to start is by checking on the latest updates to three popular free patent search sites: EspacenetPATENTSCOPE, and Google Patents.  Here’s a quick overview on each site and a look at the latest new features:


Overview: Espacenet is a free patent database created by the European Patent Office (EPO), and allows users to search across bibliographic data (and in some cases, full text) for over 90 million patent documents from around the world.  Espacenet includes innovative features like image mosaics of patent drawings, machine translation of bibliographic data and full text (powered by EPO and Google), links to patent registers for the issuing patent office, and Global Dossier links (which includes patent file history papers for some patent documents from USPTO, EPO, JPO, KIPO, SIPO, WIPO, and CIPO).

Latest Updates: The latest news I was able to find for Espacenet was from November 2016, and the release notes describe the following updates:

  • Global Dossier service now includes access to patent file papers from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) for applications published on or after October 1, 2015 and for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications published on or after January 1, 1978.
  • Links to Global Dossier and links to the European Patent Register and available national registers have been separated.
  • Results lists can not be sorted by publication date.
  • The bibliographic and full-text coverage tables for Espacenet now use green coloring for rows to indicate changes in the data.
Global Dossier link now available for a Canadian patent application.


Overview: PATENTSCOPE is a free patent search site maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization, and it allows users to search across 59 million patent documents, including 3.1 million PCT applications.  PATENTSCOPE includes unique features like the Cross-Lingual Expansion search form (which uses machine translation to automatically expand a search query), machine translation options of patent documents through WIPO Translate (or other machine translation services), and a chart of national phase information for granted PCT applications.

Latest Updates: According to PATENTSCOPE News Archive, recent updates to the database include:

  • Chemical structure search option for “PCT applications in English and German (from 1978), and the national collection of the U.S. (from 1979)”.  Users must first log in to use this feature.
  • Updates to WIPO Translate, which now uses “cutting-edge neural machine translation technology to render highly technical patent documents into a second language in a style and syntax that more closely mirrors common usage.”  The technology is initially being used for translation of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese patent documents into English.
  • Global Dossier content is now available on PATENTSCOPE for Japanese, Canadian, and EPO patent applications, under the “Documents” tab.  Global Dossier content for US, AU, KR, and CN documents will be available in the near future.
PATENTSCOPE chemical structure editor (image from press release).

Google Patents

Overview:  Google Patents searches across 17 patent authorities, and users also have the option to search across non-patent literature from Google Scholar.  Google Patents includes many unique features, like automatic grouping of results by Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) codes, CPC codes added to non-patent literature through machine classification, and an option to search for related prior art for a single patent document.

 Latest Updates: The Google Blog’s latest news on Google Patents is from August 2016 and describes the addition of 11 patent authorities to the patent coverage. The Google Patents homepage also mentions new features including “boolean search, graphs, thumbnail grids and downloads.”   At the bottom of search results, I noticed new graphs and charts identifying top filing dates, assignees, inventors, and CPC codes for top 1000 results, which seems to be a new feature since 2015.

Graphs and charts under Google Patents search results, identifying top filing dates, assignees, inventors, and CPC codes.




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