FAQ - Espacenet patent search



What is Espacenet?

Espacenet offers free access to more than 120 million patent documents worldwide, containing information about inventions and technical developments from 1836 to today. It has a user-friendly interface available in almost all European languages. It enables users with little or no experience in patent searching to obtain an overview of the state of the art, to follow new developments or to find out who invented what.

What can the Espacenet service do for me?

You can use Espacenet to:

  • watch new technologies emerge;
  • find solutions to your technical problems;
  • get a sneak preview of what your competitors are developing;
  • machine-translate patent documents using the Patent Translate feature.

Where can I find online help?

Espacenet offers you a lot of useful information to help you with your searches. You can look for answers to your questions in the Help files, the FAQs or the Forum.

Does the European Patent Office carry out searches for users?

No. Espacenet was set up to enable users to conduct their own searches in patent documents and to give them a wide range of search options.

What is the coverage of the worldwide database?

The worldwide database contains information on published patent applications and granted patents from over 90 patent-granting authorities.

You should always check whether there are any gaps in the data provided.

Where can I find information on the status of European patent applications/patents?

The European Patent Register contains all the publicly available information on European patent applications as they pass through the grant procedure, including oppositions, patent attorney/EPO correspondence and more. This service also provides for public file inspection.

To access the European Patent Register from Espacenet, simply click on the EP Register hyperlink above the title of a document on the Bibliographic data screen.

How do I find out if a patent or patent application is still in force?

  • For EP and Euro-PCT patent publications consult the European Patent Register (see question 6).
  • For non-EP patent documents and patent applications of some member states there is a link to the respective national patent office’s register on the legal status tab in the European Patent Register.
  • For patent documents of non-member states, select the INPADOC legal status tab and verify the correctness of the information by contacting the respective national patent authority.

How up-to-date is the legal status information in Espacenet?

As in all other patent databases, the correctness of the data found under the INPADOC legal status tab and the extent to which that data is up-to-date depends on the national patent offices. In particular, delays in the delivery of bibliographic or legal status data can vary significantly, depending on the country concerned and the time period covered.

What do A1, A2, A3 and B stand for after a European publication number?

When a European patent application is published together with the search report, it is known as an A1 publication. If it is published without the search report, it is an A2 document. The search report is then published later as an A3 document. When the patent is granted, it is published as a B document.

Can I search for non-patent literature (XP) documents?

Yes, you can search for XP documents that have been classified or cited in a search report. You cannot retrieve an XP document by the name of the author or limit a search to XP documents only. When searching for a specific article, you must enter the NPL reference number in the Smart search mask.

Where available, a DOI link has been added. A DOI (digital object identifier) is a permanent digital identifier for electronic intellectual property documents. If you know the DOI of a non-patent literature document, you can retrieve that document by entering the field identifier "doi=" plus the DOI number in the Smart search mask.

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