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Patent Application Searching

  1. Purpose and Instructions
  2. Getting to Advanced Search
  3. Entering Query Terms
  4. Other Search Constraints
  5. The Results Page
  6. Further Assistance

Purpose and Instructions

The purpose of this tutorial is to give users a hands-on, interactive patent application searching experience utilizing the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website.

This tutorial was brought to you by McKinney Engineering Library, The University of Texas Libraries.

Getting to Advanced Search

  1. Go to the USPTO's homepage ( Click on the Patents link on the menu bar.
  2. Screenshot of the USPTO homepage.

  3. In the Tools sidebar, click on the USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT) and Application Full-Text and Image Database (AppFT) link.
  4. Screenshot showing the link to the USPTO Patent Application Full-Text and Image Database.

  5. In the AppFT: Applications box on the right, select Advanced Search.

Screenshot of the AppFT search page.

Entering Query Terms

  1. In the Query box, type in your search terms. For example, type "computer mouse" in the query box (please include the quotation marks in your search). This will return a list of all the patents that have the phrase computer mouse anywhere in the indexed text.

  2. Click on "Search." This brings up a list of patents that contain your search terms anywhere in the text of the patent application.
  3. Screenshot showing patent application search and corresponding results.

  4. PatApp publication only began in 2001, therefore only applications from 2001-present are in this database.

  5. At this point hit the back button on your browser. Then, move forward in the tutorial to "Step 4: Other Constraints".

Other Search Constraints

If you want to narrow your search, you can use the field codes listed below the search box on the main Patent Application Full Text and Image Database advanced search page. To do this, precede your search term with the field code, followed by a forward slash (/). For example, say you wanted to search the abstracts of patents for the word "computer mouse." You would then type abst/ "computer mouse" into the query box and then click the Search button to bring up your hits.

Screenshot of advanced patent application search.

The Results Page

Click on a patent application number to bring up a specific patent application. Focus on the Abstracts, Current U.S. class and subclass numbers, and the claims.

Finally, don't forget to look at the drawings. Click on the images button at the top of the page. (In order to view these images you will need a specialized TIFF viewer. Click on the help button at the top of the page and then click on the topic How to Access Patent Full-page Images to get complete instructions on downloading the free software.)

Screenshot of a sample patent application.

Further Assistance

You may call 512-495-4511 or contact the Engineering Library for additional help using the patent files.

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