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Patents: Home

What is a patent?

A patent is a right that can be provided to inventors for devices, substances, methods or processes.

What can be patented?

  • mechanical devices & appliances
  • computer-related inventions
  • business methods
  • biological inventions
  • micro-organisms
  • biological materials

A patent protects the owner, enabling them to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission for the duration of the patent.

Patents are legally enforceable. 

-- from the IPAustralia website.

Patents user guide

The State Library of South Australia has a useful guide on searching for patents.

Patents in library databases

Patent websites

To find the full-text of a particular patent (or to discover whether a patent exists) various sources are available:


  • AusPat allows you to search Australian patents back to 1904. This website is maintained by IP Australia, the federal government agency responsible for administering intellectual property issues in Australia.


  • Google patents provides access to 87 million patent applications from 17 countries (not Australia). View full coverage details.
  • Patentscope database (World Intellectual Property Organization) allows searching of patent documents from around the world. 
  • Espacenet patent search (European Patents Office) includes patents from European and non-European countries.
  • FreePatentsOnline search a comprehensive list of patents from the US, as well as patents from Europe and Japan.
  • Canadian Patents Database contains Canadian patents from 1869 to the present and is updated regularly. 
  • US Patent and Trademark Office allows searching of US patents from 1790 to the present. Users can search the full text of patent documents from 1976 onwards.
  • IPO New Zealand allows searching of New Zealand patents, designs and trademarks. The IPO is the body responsible for granting and registering intellectual property (IP) rights in New Zealand.
  • Japan Platform for Patent Information search over 110 million Japanese patents, utility models, designs and trademarks.


The Lens

The Lens is a worldwide, free, full-text resource.

Search for specific authors in the scientific literature and find out if their work led to patented innovation.

Check out University of Adelaide applications, for example autoantibody biomarkers of ovarian cancer.

Can't find a patent?

If you cannot find a patent elsewhere, request it via the library's Document Delivery service or contact IP Australia.

In order for a patent to be tracked down you will usually need to provide information such as patent country, patent number, date and author.