Choose a search tool

There are a number of free online search tools which you can use to search patent databases.

These include:

The Lens (1) The Lens1 - covers patent documents from most countries around the world, and so is useful for both prior art and Freedom to Operate searches.

Google Patents (2) arguably the easiest interface to use, Google Patents does not include Australian patent literature so be wary if you are conducting a search. Also consider searching with Google Scholar - - to find research and scientific literature relevant to your product or service in a prior art search.

AusPat (3) the search tool for our patent database. This only covers Australian patent documentation.

Search terms

Try entering some keywords that best describe what your invention is and what it does. Synonyms come in handy here. Make sure to also think of different ways your invention can be described, for example a ‘soft drink can’ could also be described as:

  • a beverage container
  • a liquid holding receptacle
  • or a fluid retention device.

To get started, you might find it useful to search for your competitors’ patent applications and see what type of language they use.


Compile your results in a way which will be easy to take with you to your attorney, so they can help you interpret what these documents might mean to your patent application. You might do this by saving a list of links to what you find, or maybe printing web pages to PDF.