Guide to finding patents, based on the collections of the State Library of Victoria
Australian patent registrations began on 1st June 1904, after Federation. Prior to this, each Australian colony had its own system of registration (See separate links in this guide).
Are you searching for a patent registered in Australia ?
Do you know?
If you have some or all of these details , search IP Australia's online AusPat database. It includes Australian patents from 1904 to current patents.
Steps to find and request Australian patents:
2. If you cannot find the patent on AusPat, search the print or microfiche indexes to find the patent number and year, or ask a librarian for help. The State Library holds print and microfiche copies of Australian patents from 1904 up to 1999. A librarian can check AusPat or patent indexes to find the patent number and the year.
3. Once you have the patent number and year, ask a librarian to request the print or microfiche copy.
Australian patents have complex numbering sequences that changed over the years, and the same patent number will have been allocated to different patents, by different inventors, in different date cycles. To retrieve printed patents, it is necessary to identify both a patent's number and its year. See the Australian Patent Number Sequences box on this page.
Online copies of patents available from AusPat database.
AusPat has number, name & subject indexes 1904 onwards
The AusPat database also includes an Application Number to Publication/Serial (accepted/granted patent) Number Concordance, from Application Number 25558/35 to Serial (accepted/granted) Number 100001, to the present.
Click on this link to search additional IP Australia online patents databases.
AusPat database search tip – using the “Structured Search” option, search in the “Full Specification” field, using Boolean operators. For example – “jespersen AND fires” retrieves the full text of Jespersen’s 1904 accepted Australian patent specification for an “Appliance for extinguishing fires”.
NOTE that to search the "Full Specification" field, you need to check the "Include Full Text Search" check box, which can be found above the first search term in the "Structured Search" screen. Once this has been checked, the full text fields in the drop down list will be able to be selected.
NOTE also that if you do not check the "Include Full Text Search" check box, the system will default to searching the bibliographic data only. The bibliographic data includes application and publication/serial numbers, names of inventor and applicant, dates, IPC marks, and application and publication information.
Full text Australian patents available in AusPat can be coded as AU-A, AU-B and AU-C. AU-A refers to an unexamined patent application: AU-B refers to an examined and accepted patent; AU-C refers to amended AU-B patent.
A library patron has given us this suggestion for finding a pre-1920 patent number on AusPat:
"If you know the number of a pre-1920 Australian patent, you can easily find it by searching for the number in the format YYYYPPPPPP where YYYY is the year and PPPPPP is the patent number in six-digit form, e.g. patent number 6143 of 1917 becomes 1917006143. However, if you do not know the number, AusPat fails you.
But there is a way. Search the National Archives of Australia's RecordSearch and enter a keyword from the title (or a likely keyword), plus the word 'patent' (note that the patentee's name is not part of the NAA database). For instance, I know MacFarlane had a patent for winches. Search: patent winches. I might get a few likely hits. Go back to AusPat and search using the NAA control symbol, converting to the number format described above. You will find the patent".
Before requesting print copies of Australian patents, search the AusPat database on the IP Australia website. It is free to search and has full specifications. Some early twentieth century patents may not be on AusPat. You can also search the National Archives of Australia website, as explained on this page.
If you cannot find a copy of the patent online, contact us at Ask a librarian The State Library holds print and microfiche copies of Australian patents, 1904 to 1999. Staff can search the indexes to identify the patent number and request the relevant patent from storage. Most of our patents are in paper format, but microfiche copies of Australia patent - AU-A & AU-B series - filed by Application Number are held.
Summary of State Library print patent holdings
You need the date of application and the patent number before staff can retrieve a patent for you. Go to the Ask a librarian page to request retrieval of the patent.
Specifications of inventions with notes of void applications - (YA 608 AU7S) The State Library holds patent number 1, 1904 to patent number 496,937 of 1975 under this title. A new series commenced in 1935 with patent number 100,001. The library call number is slightly different for the two sequences:
Patent number 1 (1904) to patent number 25,875 (1935) and the new series beginning with number 100,001 (1935/36) to patent number 112,599 (1939/40 are held at YA 608 AU7S.
Patent number 112,600 (1939) to patent number 496,937 (1975) are held at YA 608 AU7PS. These are filed in publication (granted) number order.
Also held are Australian patents filed in Application number order, from Application No.64003 (1966) to Application No.78454 (1975).
Note that the patents for the whole period 1904 to 1975 are found under the same catalogue record, namely Specifications of inventions. The two sequences, 1904 to 1939/40, and 1939/40 to 1975, are listed on this catalogue record. As these patents are held at our offsite store, a librarian needs to request the required patent for another day.
Void Patents -Note - some patent applications were not published. These are recorded with the application number, and the word "Void" for withdrawn, not granted and lapsed applications. Contact IP Australia Sales Unit in Canberra or the National Archives of Australia to find void applications.
Example of a Void Application (Number 9010 of 1907)
As well as paper copies of patents, the State Library has microfiche copies of later twentieth century patents:
Important - All accepted (granted) patents from December 1935 (25,500/35) were allocated an additional Publication (Serial) Number, commencing at 100,001.
Accepted (granted) patents from December 1935 onwards are filed by the Publication (Serial) Number or granted number. Use the serial (granted) number when requesting a patent, not the application number.
How to find the granted number of a patent?
The granted (serial) numbers are listed alongside the application numbers in the concordances published in the Australian official journal of patents, trademarks and designs, usually in January or December of each year. Several years of numbers are usually listed, as applications could take longer than one year to be granted. More information is given about the journal on this page.
Staff: Go to Specifications of inventions. Use this catalogue record to request patents for the whole period, 1904 to 1975. The two date sequences, 1904 to 1939/40, and 1939/1940 to 1975, are listed separately on the catalogue record. Barcodes have been allocated to most patent number ranges, but some use a generic code. Select the appropriate barcode and type in the patent number and the year, and the date required.
Copies not held in the Library
If copies are not held in the Library, either missing from the collection, or void (see "Void Patents" box on this page), these can be ordered from the Canberra office of the National Archives of Australia (see the Other Resources box on this page).
You can also search the AusPat IP Australia database as explained above.
The volumes for 1904 to 1949 also contain a subject index.
Search the AusPat database before you turn to the print indexes. If you find the patent on AusPat, you don't need to search the print indexes, as AusPat has the full specifications.
If you have only the name of a patentee and not the patent number, check the printed name indexes to verify the patent number and date. Staff can do this, if you complete our online request form
If you know the nature of the invention, narrow down the possible year from the information that you have. You can use the appropriate volume or volumes of the subject indexes to verify the patent number and date.
The indexes contain references to information in the Australian official journal of patents - for example, dates specifications received or accepted.
Need help to find the patent number and year? Staff can search the indexes for you, if you complete our online request form.
We can also request the full specification from our offsite store or find it on the AusPat database.
Searching the catalogue for Australian patents indexes:
Note that the title of the patents index changed over the twentieth century.
Use the subject heading Patents - Australia- indexes- periodicals to find patents indexes for the years you need. This gives you the title changes of the patent indexes and the years covered. The indexes are in print format 1904 to 1981, and CD ROM format from 1998 to 2011.
Search by call number 608 AU7 to find a more comprehensive list of indexes covering early to late twentieth century.
Only use these indexes if you cannot find the patent on the AusPat database.
Australia Patent AU-A & AU-B series.
The State Library holds microfiche copies of Australian patents. Use other sources before requesting these. The microfiche copies were sent to the State Library by the Patents Office in batches a number of years after the patent applications were lodged.
Patents for the years 1975 to 1997 are filed by year and application number at MF 143 in onsite storage, with a small number of patents for 1974 and 1998. For staff retrieving the patents, note that the patent number appears on the top right of the microfiche for example: AU-B 80602/75 is patent number 80602 of the year 1975.
We do not hold an index for these patents.
Microfiche patents held offsite
Australian AU-A patents from 1935 to 1999 are held at YMF 143 at the offsite store. They are listed on the library catalogue under Australia Patent MF 143. They are filed by Application Number: (AU-A 25,500/35 to AU-A 32,500/99). Offsite staff have advised that when these microfiche patents are sent to the library, they are stamped with the location MF 143 and the date of accession (1st June 2007). The offsite microfiche must be ordered by a librarian.
AU-A series index
An index to AU-A patent applications 1975 to 2011 is held at the State Library under the title Australian AU-A patents [electronic resource] / IP Australia. These are load-on demand CDs and must be loaded by a staff member after 48 hours notice. Use other sources listed on this guide to find patent numbers, for example the AusPat online database on the IP Australia website. If you find the full specification on AusPat, you do not need to use the microfiche copies.
Applications were allocated a single number with a year suffix, and this number was retained for patents that were granted.
Patent numbers were allocated in 5 year cycles.
Important - To request patents, you need both the patent number and the year.
Application numbers allocated for all applications, but granted patents were allocated a separate six digit number, starting with 25558/35 (100,001).
Important - patents were filed by granted number. To identify a granted patent number if only the application number is known:
The Australian official journal of patents, trade marks & designs has concordances showing lists of application numbers and their six-figure granted (final) patent number. This journal is held offsite. A librarian can request the relevant volume for you. Use the granted number to request the patent from the offsite store, or to search the AusPat database by the patent number.
See the boxes below for further information about the patents journal and a sample of a concordance.
Applications were given a nine digit number, and if granted, were given a new six digit number.
Applications are given a 10 digit application number that remains the same when the patent is granted.
National Archives of Australia (NAA) - search the NAA in Canberra for their holdings of the series of Australian Patents, and search NAA for a limited number of listings of particular selected patents by name, date, keywords. The major NAA series of Australian patents is Series Number A13882 (1st June 1904 +). See also an outline of the patent records held by the NAA at their Canberra office.
Searching the NAA website for patents
You can do a basic search from the National Archives of Australia homepage Type the full name or surname of the inventor in the search box with the word patent, for example Smith patent and click on the search button. This gives you a list of patents.
Alternatively, go to the National Archives of Australia homepage and click on Search the Collection, then click on RecordSearch. You can do a Basic Search, using terms such as the surname of the inventor and the word patent.
There is an Advanced search option if you have more information.
The advanced search option can also be used if you have the patent number, but not the inventor or the year. Type the word patent in the title keyword box and type the number with an asterisk after it, in the Control symbol box, for example 4951* This brings up all patents containing this number.
You can select and request a copy of the patent you want from the list of patents on the NAA page. There is a charge. If a patent has already been digitised, an icon looking like a document will appear in the Digitised Item column.
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) - enables full text searching of over 1.6 million international patent applications from 1978, including selected Australian patents, via its PATENTSCOPE® Search Service
Patent Lens - a worldwide, open-access, free full-text patent resource. Provides full text access to Australian patents from 1998 +
Google Patents - Australian Patents applied for in the US can be found (in full text) via Google Patents - search by name, date and keyword
British Patents - a limited number of Australian Patents may have been applied for in Great Britain, and some of these may be found in the State Library's print collections, or on Espacenet (European Patent Office)
Some patents were not published in the printed volumes.
These are noted as "Void" for withdrawn, not granted and lapsed applications.
In order to access copies you would need to contact the Canberra office of the National Archives of Australia.
See this example of a Void Application (Number 9010 of 1907)
During World War I, Australian patent applications thought to be of assistance to the enemy, were prohibited from publication or communication, under the War Precautions (Patents) Regulations 1916 (Statutory Rules 140).
Australian patents (as well as trade marks and designs) that were registered to alien enemies, could be suspended in whole or part by powers extended to the Governor General of the Commonwealth.
During World War II, patents thought to be of assistance to the enemy, were referred to the Army Headquarters Inventions Board (1939-1940), the Central Inventions Board (1941-1942), and to the Army Inventions Directorate (1942). The Commissioner of Patents had powers to prohibit or restrict publication, on the grounds of security.
The National Archives of Australia (NAA) hold records of World War II inventions, including the following Series. For additional information see the NAA Army Inventions Directorate, 1942-46 - Fact Sheet 199.
MP76/1 - Inventions correspondence files, 1939-1946
MP100/1- Drawings of inventions, 1939-1945
MP100/3 - Volumes of photographs of inventions, 1939-1945
Current information relating to patents, and other forms of intellectual property (trade marks, designs, copyright) is available online. The database, SNIPER (Searchable Networked Intellectual Property Electronic Resource), includes articles, conference papers, book chapters and online documents.
Print copies of Australian official journal of patents 1904 to 2003
Jan. 22, 1987 to Oct.2, 2003 at YA 608 AU7PAT
CD ROM version for vol. 17, no. 40 (2003 Oct. 9)-vol. 25, no 50 (2011 Dec. 22)
Contact staff for retrieval.
The following information relates to the historic issues (early to mid-twentieth century): This is a weekly journal listing patent applications and complete specifications accepted as well as lapsed, abandoned or withdrawn patent applications. The journal does not contain full patent applications. Lists of void applications for non-payment of fees are given. There are illustrated abridgments to some of the accepted specifications. The listings of complete specifications accepted are organised by year of application and give the patent application number and the final, 6-digit number (the granted publication number). Before December 1935, the application number was the same as the granted number.
For patent applications from December 1935 to July 4, 2002, the application number was different from the granted number. You need to know the granted number before you can request the patent from the State Library collection. You can also use the granted number to search the AusPat database on the IP Australia website. AusPat has other search options, so always try it first.
If you are having trouble finding a particular patent on the AusPat database, you can try searching the Australian official journal of patents to find the granted number and use this number to search AusPat or to request the printed patent.
Some issues of the journal (usually January or December ) have a concordance listing application numbers and granted numbers, organised by year. There was often a lengthy period between the date of application and the date the specification was accepted, for example, some of the patent applications in the 1940s took over two years to be accepted. This means that you search a journal issue published up to two years after the patent application.
See the example of a concordance on the left of this page.
Much of this information relates to historic issues of the patents journal.
Issues of the Australian official journal of patents from July 2004 to the present can be found on the IP Australia website under the Journals heading.