Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)
about the US Patent Full-Text Database
- Questions about the Database
- Questions about Searching
Questions about the Database
How can I view the patent images?
The PTO Web Patent Full-Text Database includes the full text of all
granted since 1976, and the patent number, issue date, and current US
for all patents granted from 1790 through 1975. At the top of each text
display page is a button marked "Images". Clicking on that
button will display the full-page image of the first printed page of
that particular patent, along with navigational tools allowing the
viewing of all the other pages.
- You must have a properly
configured Web browser with an image display plug-in capable of
displaying TIFF images with T.6 (CCITT Group 4) compression. Further directions are provided on the Web page at How to Access
- What information is in the database?
- The database consists includes information about all US patents
(including utility, design, reissue, plant patents and SIR documents)
from the first patent issued in 1790 to the most recent issue week.
Patents from January 1976 to the present offer the full
searchable text, including all bibliographic data, such as the
inventor's name, the patent's title, and the assignee's name; the
abstract; the full description of the invention; and the
claims. The display of each patent's full-text includes a hyperlink
to obtain full-page images of each page of the patent. Information from
Certificates of Correction and Reexaminations is not included in the
full-text database per se, but can be found as full-page images appended to the
full-page images of the original patent.
Patents from 1790 to December 1975 offer only the patent number, issue date,
and current US patent classification in the text display, and can be
searched only within those fields. However, this limited text display also
includes a hyperlink to obtain full-page images of all pages of the
Does your database include data on pending patent applications?
- The Patent Grant Database only includes data on patents which
have been issued. Since 1 January 2001, patent applications have
been published in the Published
Patent Applications Database (AppFT).
Does your database include data on the current fee status and
expiration of patents?
the US Patent Full Text Database does not include this data,
but it is available on the PTO Web site. Use the link to the Patent
Application Information Retrieval database (PAIR) on the Web database
How often is the database updated?
- The database is normally updated every Tuesday, the day patents
are issued. Exceptions may occur for Federal holidays and when problems
arise with data availability. Current US classifications are normally
updated every two months. Check at the Database
Contents page for details.
How can I link to a particular patent?
- A special shortened URL format:
where the patent number "5123456" may be replaced by any valid patent
number within the database, has been established to enable users to more
easily construct a URL for bookmarking or linking to the full-text of a
single granted patent. To simplify this process even further, the
patent grant search process has been modified such that when a search
results in a single hit, the user is taken directly to the full-text
display for that patent, rather than to a hit list containing only the
Questions about Searching
- How do I use the Quick Search Page?
- Help is available on the Quick Search
How do I use the Advanced Search Page?
- Help is available on the Advanced Search
What is the menu under the heading "Select Years"?
- This selects the range of patent issue years to which your search
will be applied. The choices are:
- Default: Search the range of years (1976 - present) for
which searchable full-text is available.
- Search the full range of years (1790 - present).
How do I search for a particular patent number?
- There are several ways. The easiest is to use the Patent Number
Search Page, enter the number you are searching for in the box provided,
and hit the 'Search' Button.
Alternatively, you can go to the Quick Search Page, select which
year(s) you want to search by using the Select years to search
menu, type the patent number in the Term 1 text entry box, and
select 'Patent Number' from the Field 1 menu. Then hit the
Note: If you are not sure of the issue date, search all years in
the database by selecting the all years range, 1976 to date, from the Select
years to search menu. You can also click on the Database Contents Page for a table listing
all patent numbers and issue years since 1976.
To search for a patent number using the Advanced Search Page,
use this syntax:
Where number is the number of the patent for which you
want to view. Non-utility patents must include a prefix: 'D' for design
patents, 'PP' for plant patents, 'RE' for reissue patents, 'T' for
defensive publications, and 'H' for SIRs.
How do I search for a particular class and subclass?
- To search by class and subclass, go to the Quick Search Page,
select the all years option in the Select years to search menu,
select the appropriate Term text entry box and then type the class and
subclass in this form:
class/subclass (for example, 2.5)
Note subclasses can contain decimal or alpha modifiers (for
example, 427/2.31 or 427.3A)
- Choose 'Current US Classification' from the matching Fields menu
and hit the 'Search' button.
You can also search for class/subclass on the Advanced Search
Page by using this syntax:
Further information on searching by class is available on the Field Search Help
How do I search for a particular type of patent, e.g., a design
- To search for a particular type of patent, go to any one of the
three search pages (Quick, Advanced, Number) and, in the appropriate
patent number field (Patent Number, PN/, Query), enter the patent number
including the appropriate prefix:
- 'D' for design patents,
- 'PP' for plant patents,
- 'R' for reissue patents,
- 'T' for defensive publications,
- 'H' for SIRs,
- 'X' for X patents, or
- 'AI' for Additional Improvements
What are Stopwords?
Stopwords are terms that appear so
frequently in patent text that they lose their usefulness as search
terms. Examples are "and", "or", and "the". Although they are not indexed as search terms, they will be
displayed in your search results.