Espacenet (formerly esp @ cenet ) is a free web portal for researching patent documents. Espacenet is an in-house development of the European Patent Office (EPO) and offers access to the internal EPODOC database with more than 120 million documents (as of August 2020).
Espacenet was set up in 1998 and is considered to be a pioneering development, as patent documents were previously only available through special libraries, the display halls of patent offices or commercial databases. For this reason, patent documents lead a shadowy existence and are mostly ignored as a source of technical information, especially by publicly funded research, although an estimated 70% of global technical information is stored in patent documents (→ submarine patent ).
Measured against a free database, Espacenet has relatively powerful search functions: For example, search terms can be bracketed and linked using logical operators. Truncation is also supported. The classification search can be used to research specific technical areas.
Espacenet 's worldwide database contains the minimum documentation required under Rule 34.1 PCT , which should form the basis for determining the state of the art for assessing novelty and inventive step . In addition, the database contains entries from other countries and time periods, as well as references to relevant documents and ECLA ( European Patent Classification ) symbols.
This database contains PCT international patent applications published by WIPO in the last 24 months. These so-called WO documents are also available in the global database.