Technology Transfer

Patents are legal titles protecting inventions. They offer a temporary private right to the holder of the invention who can prevent others from using his patented invention.


The following are free key sources to search for patents. They usually provide access to the full-text.


Esp@cenet is the patent database of the European Patent Office. The database contains 45 million patent documents from around the world (mainly applications rather than granted patents). Coverage is extensive; for example, Swiss patents in facsimile go back to 1888, starting with patent CH1.

Google Patents OPEN DATABASE 

Google Patent Search covers the entire collection of issued US patents issued (approximately 7 million) and over a million patent applications made available by the United States Patent and Trademark Office — USPTO from patents issued in the 1790s through those most recently issued in the past few months. It does not cover international patents, only US patents. Full-text search and download of patents is possible.


The database is made available by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. It contains Swiss and European patents in effect in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. This includes patents which are in force as well as patents which have been cancelled. Included are Swiss patents filed after January 1978 and European patents in effect in Switzerland after the number 00 000 001.

Note that free web resources can be ineffective for searching. The licensed databases «Derwent Innovation Index» and «SciFinder» are often better suited.

Derwent Innovation Index OPEN DATABASE 

The Derwent Innovations Index searches more than 14 million patent records, many with links to the full-text. Patents are from 40 worldwide patent-issuing authorities including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office and the Japanese Patent Office. Searches retrieve records from 1963 to the present, but coverage varies among patent authorities. Derwent divides patents into 3 broad areas: chemical, electrical & electronics, and engineering. Abstracts of patents are rewritten to make it more apparent whether or not a particular patent would be applicable to your work. In addition, the database contains citing and cited patents and literature references, allowing users to move both forward and backward in time.


SciFinder is a bibliographic database for chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering and materials science. It provides access to the Chemical Abstracts database with nearly 50,000 journals indexed from 1907 to the present. Coverage includes technical reports, books, conference proceedings, dissertations, as well as patents from more than 60 patent issuing authorities around the world (complete list of sources). Links to full-text patents are also available in many cases. Special features allow users to search for information by drawing chemical structures or substructures, or by reaction, polymer and specific biosequence.

SciFinder training material can be found here.

Note that you must first register and create a personal SciFinder account to use this database. Please contact InfoServices to obtain a login ID and password.

Technology Transfer

Further assistance on searching and finding patents can be obtained from InfoServices.

Please note: If you are searching patents in preparation for applying for a patent yourself, you should contact the departments for technology transfer at the PSI or Eawag-Empa:

Eawag-Empa Technology Transfer:
Marlen Müller
Tel. 058 765 41 97

PSI — Technology Transfer:
John Millard
Tel. 056 310 41 83

TEL. +41 58 765 5700 

Stephanie Hofmann

t +41 58 765 5032

Dr. Bobby Neuhold

t +41 58 765 5133