Standards and Patents

Standards and patents are important sources of information in science, technology and business.


A standard sets out a technical specification or other precise criteria to which manufacturers and service providers are required or recommended to conform. Laws or regulations may make it obligatory to comply with a particular standard.

British Standards Online provides access to the full text of British and EU Standards, which you can view and print.

ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) produces standards for telecommunications and computing. They are free-of-charge.

ASTM The Library does not subscribe to ASTM. If you need access to an ASTM standard, please use our Interlending and Document supply service.


A patent protects a new invention by giving the inventor the right to prevent others from making, using or selling it without permission. A patent provides a detailed description of what an invention does, how it works and what it is made of.

Patents can be an important source of information about very recent developments that have not yet been described in journal articles or conference papers. They can also provide you with an overview of recent technical developments in an area. The full text of a patent can often be found free-of-charge on the web.

Patents are not listed in many library databases, which focus on journal articles and conference papers. However the general database SCOPUS does include patents, as does SciFinder, which covers patents in Chemistry. The two main specialist databases for patents are:

Esp@cenet is a worldwide network of patent databases. The availability of full text depends on individual countries. There is an excellent interactive tutorial on their website on finding and using patents.

Google Patent Search provides comprehensive coverage of US patents. Many are available in full text as pdfs.

The short video below will introduce you to the databases that Lancaster University subscribes to where you can search for standards and patents, including British Standards Online, IEEE Xplore, Espacenet, Scopus and SciFinder (for chemistry patents). Log in using your Lancaster University username and password.

(Recorded for the Research Bites Programme, January 2019)

Related Lancaster Answers

I need help with finding patents, and with patenting my work.

The Intellectual Property Office is in London, but it has a number of regional offices which provide professional enquiry and information services. There may be a charge. Our nearest office is in Manchester.

Here at Lancaster University protecting intellectual property and technology transfer is part of the work of Research & Enterprise Services. They can provide advice on how to patent your work.