Answered By: Poping Lin
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2020     Views: 13

Patent search: A comparative table of databases

What are the major patent databases and which one should I use?


Google Patents is a good place to begin. It covers full text patents from major patent offices worldwide and is particularly useful for a quick identification of patent classification codes. However, we recommend searching multiple authoritative patent databases to be thorough.

Below is a table of commonly used patent databases. 

USPTO Databases 




PatFT (1790 -) 

Full text of US granted patents

AppFT (2001-) 

US patent applications  

  • Quick search, advanced search, and number search 

Patent Assignment (1980 -) 

US patent ownership changes for issued patents and published patent applications

  • Specific patent number search, assignor search, assignee search, and correspondent name search 

Public PAIR  

US application status data since publication 

  • Specific application number search  


Global Dossier  

Full-text patent documents with examiner's comments through all stages of patenting process.  Includes patent records from Canadian, China, European, Japan, Korean, US, and WIPO 

  • Real-time one-stop-shop service for monitoring and managing patent examination process 
  • Application number, patent number and pre-grant number search 
  • “Global Dossier” link also included in patent records of EspaceNet and Patentscope databases 
  • Note: It may take up to eight weeks from the national publication date before documents are available in the Dossier. 

Other major patent databases 




Espacenet (1836 -) 

European and international, (ncluding US);
Includes both patents and applications;
Link to full-text via Global Dossier

  • Smart search, advanced and classification search 
  • Quick help and translation tool are available 
  • Note: there is no way search exclusively for granted patents (or filter your search results). Must examine each record in your search individually.

Patentscope (1976-) 

Full-text of international patent applications received by WIPO

  • Simple and advanced search, field combination search, cross lingual expansion, and chemical compound search 
  • Basic tool for analyzing search results
  • Quick help and translation tools are very useful 
  • IPC statistics (global patent activity reports) 

Additional commercial databases with patent data:

  • Cortellis: pharmaceutical focused (In-library use for HBS MBA students only.)
  • Nexis Uni: patents from all authorities worldwide with preliminary analysis tool
  • SciFinder:  most comprehensive database for chemistry and chemical engineering, including patents from 61 patent authorities.

Please contact for specific search support.