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20th Anniversary of Espacenet – The EPO’s Free Online Patent Search Tool

November 6, 2018


As reported by the European Patent Office, October 19, 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of Espacenet – the EPO’s free online patent search tool. Espacenet was first introduced on October 19, 1998 and revolutionized access to worldwide patent information via the internet. When it was launched 20 years ago, it provided access to 30 million documents and has since grown to include over 100 million documents from over 100 countries.

According to the EPO, the objective of Espacenet is to boost innovation by facilitating access for the public to the valuable information found in patents. The EPO created the database, recognizing that it already housed one of the world’s largest collections of patents and operated within a network of member states with their own patent offices. These member states include, among many others, Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Spain and France.

Espacenet offers two user-friendly features to provide easier access to the patent information contained within the database. Full-text searching allows users to search for keywords anywhere in a publication. Additionally, users are able to search for inventors or applicants within a specific country of residence.

Espacenet also includes links to other tools and services, including the European Patent Register, the Federal Register and the Global Dossier. The European Patent Register is a free online service that contains procedural information on all European patent applications and includes links to the patent registers of the EPO member states. The Federal Register provides information on the legal status of European Patents. The Global Dossier service allows anyone to track filed patent applications for the same invention across multiple patent offices.

Espacenet has 25,000 users daily and the number of languages contained in its patent documents has continued to grow along with its user base. The EPO developed Patent Translate, a machine that provides automated translation of patent documents in 32 languages. Some of the languages available through Patent Translate include Korean, German, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. Espacenet receives 20,000 translation requests every day.

As Espacenet continues to expand its reach, it will be interesting to watch how it evolves in its next 20 years as a worldwide patent database.


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