The emergence of web-based searchable patent databases has significantly facilitated the access to, and reduced the costs of, using patent information. Wherever web-based databases are not available, patent databases may be consulted manually, on microfilms or CD-ROMs, at the national patent offices, or through commercial organizations. Sources of patent information include the following:
- PCT Online File Inspection System http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/ (A comprehensive electronic database on published international patent applications filed under the PCT system from 1978 to the present day in image format and to fully searchable text of descriptions and claims for PCT International Applications filed as from July 1998).
- National patent offices : technological information services based on patent information are usually provided in exchange for a fee.
- Patent agents/patent attorneys or commercial organizations.
- Individual manual searches in patent centers, libraries or national patent offices.
- Individual electronic searches through electronic databases or CD-ROMs.
WIPO Patent Information Services (WPIS) for Developing Countries
WIPO also provides free patent information services to individuals, companies and institutions from developing countries. An overview of the WPIS is available on-line as well as in publication format.