My professional career started in 2000, and so I have been privileged to work in a era where electronic and online communications have been the norm.  Over my time working I have seen evolution of various online resources from basic versions to more advanced.

Some key sites that I use are the online file inspection tools that are made available by various Patent Offices.  Patent applications normally get published around eighteen months after they are filed, but as well as the core publication document, the “file wrapper” becomes available for public inspection.  This includes examination reports and responses made to them by the applicant, as well as other procedural documents.

In recent years various Patent Offices have gone to great lengths to make these file wrappers available online, and for free.  In the past, one would have to order paper copies or physically visit the relevant Patent Office to inspect the physical files.  However now these online collections provide a fantastic resource that I all too often take for granted.

Online file inspection is available for the following Patent Offices:




Various other countries have similar systems but these are the three that I use regularly.  The EPO even offers a “Register Alert” service where you can create a user account and be alerted by e-mail when changes are made to applications that you select for monitoring.

And of course, another good resource is esp@cenet, the database maintained by the EPO for searching patents.  You can search by subject matter using keywords or by the official classification systems that group patents by their subject matter.  You can find this site at

The Patent Offices should be applauded for the work they have done to make these resources avaialable, and for the ongoing work in maintaining and improving the resources.

I hope you enjoy using these tools!