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General perspective on this resource

This is the largest available database of patents. It is a public searchable version of the Patstat data, with links to the original docs. This is our most common source for data coming from the patent documents themselves rather than secondary databases. It's from the European Patent Office (EPO).

This is a fantastic resource, with some variables to bear in mind. Its value mainly pertains to material dated after 1900, and some nations are better represented than others. This may or may not correlate with the actual quantity and quality of this or that nation's recorded aero-innovation. Germany is fairly well-represented, with earlier dated espacenet patents often overlapping the latter of those found via Lilienthal Museum patents. France seems to be rather well-represented, again, that is, with regard to material dated after 1900. Belgium is notably under-represented.

International variability in terms of representation on Espacenet

There are other aspects of variability. Spanish and Austrian and Swiss patents, for instance, are quite solidly represented though they often lack sufficient "bibliographic data", specifically in that they are are almost always lacking CPC and IPC classification. Inventors, already known, must therefore be searched by name. Spanish patents are additionally almost always, if not always, lacking access to the original. (Much of this data can be contextualized relative to French and other material.) Very much more rarely indeed, we may find access to the complete original, but with an erroneous title displayed as data topping both the Original document page and that of the Bibliographic data. This is quite rare, and it seems to be a purely isolated type of incident, whereas the above phenomena seems to be issues of resource allocation on the parts of the nations contributing to the database.

Data on patents filed in Hungary, and in Belgium, seems to be lacking altogether, for our purposes, though the data is available elsewhere.

In the case of France, there are some rarely occurring phenomena to be borne in mind. Patent FR-1909-406712‎ is an example of a patent which has only very limited bibliographic data, not even a patent title. It was found using the "Advanced search" function, within the "Publication number" field, of "FR406712", at which point we find IPC and CPC data which fits well within our trends. What prompted the patent's being sought was the reference made to it, number and filing date, on a certificate of addition.

Approaches to search criteria

Regarding search via CPC and IPC classifications, "B64", inclusive of its variants, seems to be key, that is, again, when such data is included in the bibliographic data for a particular patent. It seems that this process yields no accidental non-aero results. (Keywords, even as safe as "aeroplane", may, though very occasionally, yield non-aero results, such as found in Patent FR-1908-394366. In this case, the invention is an entertainment display, in which toy airplanes, or toy birds, are revolved on an apparatus in simulation of flight. This is extraordinarily rare, and these sorts of works naturally have other than "B64..." CPC and IPC classification.)

In many cases, espacenet is our only source of hints regarding data to be found in analogue sources. Original documents viewed via this site often refer to parent patents filed in nations not well-represented. For example, Austrian patents may refer to a parent Hungarian patent, and for now that may give all the info we have on the Hungarian patent. Occasionally we find references to oddly missing patents filed in nations otherwise well-included. Searching via the name of the inventor or applicant is key in these cases.

As with all database work, any search parameters may be cross-referenced, a span of years, for instance, being cross-referenced with any of the above.

General information

Espacenet classifies patents by their publication dates, this "publication data" in the cases of some nations the sole data we have in terms of dates "granted. These semantics get peculiar, with "granting", "acceptance", and "publishing", having highly overlapping usage, with our familiarity with the legal significance being imperfect. We intend to go by the filing dates. Virtually all international references between patents are based upon these, and these are the "convention priority dates" which are key to the provisions of the Convention de Paris pour la protection de la propriété industrielle. As always, it is to be remembered that we are cross-referencing data, analogue and digital, inclusive of but also going beyond, that found by way of Espacenet.

Example: Patent FR-1902-784E, granted in November 1902, published in March 1903.

Method to find GB patents on espacenet; use a search URL like the following:
(i.e. gb[year][number]a ; add zeroes in front to get the number to five digits.)

Techniques on this wiki in linking to espacenet

A template esp helps fills out the URL. Use Template:Esp by typing {{esp|country abbreviation|patent number plus suffix}} with certain suffixes:

  • suffix a in most cases, French and British, among others; note regarding British patents that the application year is as if included within the patent number. There may be antique administrative approaches to this. For database purposes, on Espacenet, particularly in terms of this linking protocol, it is included. A patent with only four digits will have the year, and a zero, followed by the four digits. See Patent GB-1909-4803, as a fairly standard example.
  • suffix e is used for French certificates of addition
  • suffix b for Austrian patents
  • use suffix h1 for older series of Spanish patents on espacenet
  • sometimes c, for German ones I think

We have not documented the exact meaning for the different suffixes. There must be documentation on espacenet.

When consulting Espacenet, some peculiarities are to be kept in mind, such as "Regular maintenance outages: scheduled between 05.00 and 05.30 hrs CET, Monday to Sunday".

Templates USpatentsources, DEpatentsources, and ATpatentsources are designed to link to the right information on several sites based on a nation-specific patent number

New interface at espacenet

We use the "old" interface. The new one is here: .... It seems to be designed for mobile interfaces and doesn't give us access in the same easy way to the basic details we are recording.

Search notes and tips

  • Date range on advance search can be easily used with YYYY:YYYY, e.g. 1800:1922.