Patents and Standards

Changes to Library services during the COVID-19 lockdown.


A patent is "a certificate of grant by a government of an exclusive right with respect to an invention for a limited period of time" (AccessScience Encyclopedia).  Patents can be invaluable sources of information, but are not easy to search for and use.


Standards are officially approved specifications that cover such topics as methods of testing, terminology, performance, and construction requirements. Often they are not more than a few pages long.  Many bodies issue standards (national and international standards organizations, trade associations, government departments, etc).


  • Begin by defining exactly what you are searching for
  • Select the keywords/synonyms in your topic
  • Be specific when determining keywords/synonyms and terms to search
  • Use the advanced interface of electronic databases and Internet search engines to help narrow your search
  • Limit results in electronic databases to full-text or peer reviewed journals only
  • Use Boolean Operators to connect search terms 
  • Take notes during your research to keep track of where you have been, keywords searched, what worked and what didn't, etc.
  • Google search secrets [electronic resource] / Christa Burns and Michael P. Sauers.

*Google’s New, Simplified Patent Search Now Integrates Prior Art And Google Scholar*

Patent Databases

  • Canada
  • United States
    • Free Patents Online Provides free PDF downloads of full text U.S. patents.  Check out the fun list of Crazy Patents.
    • Fresh Patents Browse, keyword search or receive RSS feeds on the latest published U.S. patent application each week before the USPTO decision to grant/deny.
    • Google Patents Searches patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office.
    • Patent full-text and full image database Full text of US patents.  Issued patents: fulltext from 1976 onwards, full page images from 1790.  Published applications: since 15 March 2001.
  • International
    • DEPATIS German Patent Information System.
    • Espacenet European, Japanese, and World Intellectual Property Organization.
    • Online European Patent Register Contains all published European patent applications and PCT applications with EPC Member States designation from first publication until grant (over 850,000 records).
    • SAE Mobilus a vast online repository of authoritative technical content including SAE standards and technical papers
    • SciFinder Scholar Provides comprehensive information on chemical and related information, including journal articles and patents in one source.

Patent Offices

  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office Provides information on patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies.
  • Carleton University's Innovation Transfer Office Services for students and faculty include advice on how to apply for a patent, management of patent agents on prosecution, marketing of the technology to potential licences, and negotiation of licence agreements and monitoring of licences.
  • European Patent Office Provides information on EPO member states and news updates. Can also search the Online European Patent Register.
  • Japan Patent Office Provides news updates, committee documents, and quick guides to patent, utility model, design and trademark law. Also search the Patent Abstracts of Japan.
  • SIPO State Intellectual Property Office for the People's Republic of China.
  • United Kingdom Patent Office Includes information regarding patent history, news, applications, and patent law. Provides links to guides and brochures on patent information. Can also search Great Britain's Espacenet, with links to other national and international databases.
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office Guides, news and link to the Patent full-text and full image database.  



  • World Patent Information [electronic resource]. Worldwide forum for the exchange of information between people working professionally in the field of Industrial Property information and documentation and to promote the widest possible use of the associated literature.

Standards Databases

Additional standards databases (free to search but fees apply to order):

If you would like to order an individual standard, you can do so by contacting via Interlibrary Loans.  We will place the order for you but we will not absorb the costs. Most libraries do not lend standards through interlibrary loan. However, if you have privileges to a specific library, you can access the standard within that library.  Please note that CISTI no longer keeps standards.

Standards Organizations

  • Canada
    • CGSB (Canadian General Standards Board) Canadian federal government organization that provides standards development and conformity assessment services.
    • CSA (Canadian Standards Association) Nonprofit, membership-based organization that works to develop standards and provide educational services.
    • SCC (Standards Council of Canada) Federal Crown corporation whose mandate is to promote efficient and effective voluntary standardization in Canada.
  • United States
    • ANSI (American National Standards Assocation) This body administers and coordinates U.S. private sector voluntary standardization.
    • DODSSP US Department of Defense single stock point for military specifications, standards, and related publications.
    • NISO (National Information Standards Organization) Free fulltext standards available online.
  • International
    • IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) "Leading global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies".
    • ISO (International Organization for Standardization) This nongovernmental organization is a network of the national standards institutes of 148 member countries.



  • StandardView [Electronic resource]. Contains "practical and theoretical information [...] on all aspects of standardization, with an emphasis on how standards affect the daily work of all information technology professionals."
Content last reviewed: July 12, 2018