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Looking for chemical patents on the Internet for free? Look no further. Here is a summary of patent resources that are available at the click of a mouse. (Articles).

Even as an undergraduate chemistry student, I remember encountering bibliographic references to patent documents [1] in my literature searches for my fourth-year research project. I remember not having any idea about how one goes about accessing patents, especially for free. Here is a road map on how to obtain patent documents if your literature search has uncovered a record for a chemical patent such as the one reproduced below:
Process for the preparation of 4-phenoxyquinoline compounds useful as
fungicides. Robery, Roger L.; Alt, Charles A.; DeAminis, Carl V. (Dow
Elanco, U.S.A.). U.S. (1993), 4 pp. CODEN: USXXAM US 5245036 A 19930914
Patent written in English. Application: US92-879488 19920507. CAN
120:30682 AN 1994:30682 CAPLUS

Patent No. Kind Date Application No.

Patent Family Information

US5245036 A 19930914 US1992-879488
JP06041083 A2 19940215 JP1993-124804
EP569021 B1 19931110 EP1993-107392
R: CH, DE, DK, ES,

Priority Application Information

US 1992-879488 19920507

Patent No. Date

Patent Family Information

US5245036 19920507
JP06041083 19930430
EP569021 19930506
R: CH, DE, DK, ES,

Priority Application Information

US 1992-879488

Abstract: 4-Phenoxyquinolines I [R1, R2 = H, halo, alkyl, haloalkyl; R3,
R4 = H, halo], which are known plant fungicides (no data), are prepd. by
etherification of corresponding 4-haloquinolines with phenols HOC6H3R1R2
in the presence of a catalytic amt. of a 4-dialkylaminopyridine. The
catalyst accelerates an otherwise sluggish reaction, thereby shortening
batch cycle times and effectively enlarging manufg. capacity. Thus,
reaction of 0.01 mol 4,7-dichloroquinoline with 0.014 mol 2-CF3C6H4OH in
refluxing xylene contg. 0.0015 mol 4-dimethylaminopyridine showed
complete conversion after 24 h. Isolation of the product via formation,
filtration, and neutralization of the HCI salt, gave 89% I (R1 = 2-CF3,
R2 = R4 = H, R3 = 7-Cl). Two addnl. I were similarly prepd. in 86-93%
yield and reaction times of 16-18.5 h. Also used as catalysts were
4-pyrrolidinopyridine and polyDMAP (polymer-bound 4-aminopyridine from
Reilly Industries, Inc.).

Of course, the road map provided here is only useful if you already have the patent number or patent application number. If you want to conduct a chemical patent search having only the inventive concept, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a patent agent who not only understands the product or technology of interest, but also has the chemical intuition and experience to recognize related products or technologies.

Step 1 -- Deciphering Jurisdiction and Kind Codes

From the sample record reproduced above, you can see that there are three patents (US 5245036 A, JP 06041083 A2, EP 569021 B1) that have been granted to Robery et al. for their process of preparing 4-phenoxyquinoline compounds that are useful as fungicides. When a patent is granted, it is given a patent number (serial number) that is preceded by a jurisdiction code to indicate the jurisdiction in which the patent is in force. Some of these jurisdiction codes can be intuitively deciphered while others cannot. Take, for example, the following two patent documents: US6350756 and ZA 95/01034. The 'US' designation stands for the United States, which would be a likely guess, but the 'ZA' designation stands for South Africa, which is not as likely of a guess.

In addition to jurisdiction codes, a patent document may have an alphabetic or alphanumeric designation at the end of the serial number or at the end of the jurisdiction code. In Australia, patent applications and granted patents are designated as AU-A xxxxx and AU-B xxxxx, respectively, where the 'xxxxx' represents the patent application number, which, in the case of Australian patents, is the same as the patent number.

Another example is the A1 designation in EP 96924554 A1 which tells you that that it is a European patent application but not a granted patent that has been published with the European examiner's search report. In comparison, the B1 designation in EP 569021 B1 from the above sample record tells you that the document is a European patent that was granted on November 10, 1993. For a complete list of country codes and patent document kind codes see the available list at

It is also important to note that in some jurisdictions, the number given to a patent application is the same as the number given to the granted patent, which is the case in Canada and Australia for example. Other jurisdictions, however, such as the United States and Europe, assign a different number to the granted patent than to the corresponding patent application. For example, the above sample record shows that the United States patent application no. 1992-879488 that was filed on May 7, 1992, was granted as U.S. Patent No. 5245036 A on September 14, 1993.

Step 2 -- Obtaining the Patent Document for Free

Once you have deciphered the jurisdiction and kind codes for the patent documents found in your literature search, the next step is to see if you can obtain the complete patent documents on the Internet for free. A good start is to go to the British Library's website at where a large number of links to different patent offices around the world have been compiled. Unfortunately, not all patent offices have an electronically searchable patent database that offers the full-text of patents. Table 1 shows a summary of the patent databases of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Organization that all offer full-text patent documents on the Internet for free.

i) Canada -- The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has set up a database that allows one to access for free Canadian patents by patent number as well as other fields (e.g. title, inventor, applicant etc....) dating from 1920 to present. To view and print a patent document from CIPO's database, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader[R] which can be obtained from Adobe at One drawback to CIPO's database is that you must download sections of the patent (i.e. abstract, description, claims etc....) one step at a time, which can be time-consuming.

ii) United States -- The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has also set up a database that allows one to search by patent number, in addition to other fields such as inventor, title or applicant, for full-text United States patents in HTML format that have been granted since 1976. Full-page images of patents dating from 1790 to present are also available, but you will need the browser plug-in called 'TIFFviewer'. Full-text and full-image pages of United States patent applications that have been published since March 15, 2001 are also available for free.

It is highly recommended that the full-page image of chemical patents rather than the HTML version of the patent document be accessed, because the HTML format does not include chemical structures that appear in the patent or patent application. The only free TIFF plug-in for Windows[R] x86 PCs is 'AlternaTIFF' which is available at For the Apple Macintosh[R], Apple's freely distributed Quicktime version 4.1 or later works with the images, but does not provide printing capability. Quicktime is available from the Apple website at For Linux[R], a plug-in called 'Plugger' will work with Netscape Communicator[R]. It is available at

iii) Europe -- The database of the European Patent Organization (EPO) offers full text of European patents granted since 1970 to present, as well as some full-page images of patents granted since 1920. To search for European patent applications, you need to click on the red link entitled 'Worldwide - 30 million documents' (see Figure 1) which will lead you to a search screen (Figure 2) where you can type in the patent application number. But beware, because if for example you type 'EP1993107392' from the above sample record into the application number field on the screen, you will retrieve the corresponding European patent that has been granted as EP569021 (Figure 3), and not the patent application.

In addition to European patents, the database offers full-text patents that have been granted by the patent offices of France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. To view and print patents, Java Script must be enabled within your browser, and you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Readers[R] which can be obtained from Adobe at Once again, the same limitation of having to download and print sections of the patent one step at a time exists with EPO's database as with CIPO's database.

The EPO's database also provides abstracts and bibliographic data for Chinese and Japanese patents, but not the full-text of the patent documents. Only bibliographic data is available for patents granted by Argentina, African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARJPO), African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Ellas, Eurasian Patent Office, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Soviet Union, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The EPO's database also includes full-text patent applications that have been filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). These types of patent applications are designated as 'WO XXXXXXX' when they are published. To access this collection, you must click on the blue link entitled 'The World Intellectual Property Org. (PCT)' (See Figure 1).

Step 3 -- Obtain the Patent Document for a Fee

If you have a reference for a patent document that is not available for free from the corresponding patent office, or if you don't have the time to download a free patent document section by section from an online database, then a fee-based database containing full-text patent files such as STN[R] (, Questel-Orbit ( or Dialog ( is an option that is available to you. Another potentially less expensive option is to make use of an online document delivery service such as Delphion (, Patent Bank ( or Micropatent[R] (, which charge nominal pay-per-view charges (typically anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 USD per patent) without the connection charges that the fee-based databases charge. However, be aware that not all fee-based databases nor online document delivery services have the same coverage, and it is best to inspect their database summary sheets which are available at their websites before searching for a patent documen t.
Table 1

Free full-text patent databases on the Internet.

Jurisdiction available at: Scope

Canada http://patents1. * Full text available for patents granted after Agust 15, 1978.
 * Only bibliographic information
 available for patents granted in
 the period from January 1, 1920
 August 15, 1978.
 * Full-text of patent applications
 is available for those filed on
 or after October 1, 1989.

United http://www.uspto * Full text available in HTML
States .gov/patft/index.html format for patents granted since
 1976 to present.
 * Full page images of patents
 granted since 1790 to present
 are also available.
 * Full text in HTML format and full
 page images available for patent
 applications that have been
 published since March 15, 2000.

Europe http://ep. * Full text for patents granted since 1970.
 * Full page images for patents
 granted since 1920 for some
 * Bibliographic data of patents is
 available for several
 * Full-text PCT patent applications
 that have been published with
 a publication number in the range
 of WO0013626 to WO9217699 are
 also available.


(1.) For information on what is a patent and the patenting process related to chemical patents, please see the article entitled 'Patents 101' by Patricia Power in this issue.

Susanne M. Hantos, B.Sc., M.Sc. (organic chemistry), M.L.I.S., MCIC is a technical consultant at the intellectual property law firm of Bereskin & Parr ( She is currently training to become a registered Canadian patent agent. Susanne has worked as a chemist within the agrochemical, plastics and pharmaceutical industry in Canada. She can be reached at 416-957-1657 or by e-mail at
COPYRIGHT 2002 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Comment:Looking for chemical patents on the Internet for free? Look no further. Here is a summary of patent resources that are available at the click of a mouse. (Articles).
Author:Hantos, Susanne M.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2002
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