DIY Patent Search
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Do-It-Yourself Patent Search
There are many options for carrying out a patent search. The first is to contract with a licensed professional to carry on a patent search for you. Unfortunately, this options has one major drawback — it is incredibly expensive. Intellectual property attorneys are the highest-earning hourly employees in the legal field. Nonetheless, their services are often indispensable when seeking to secure intellectual property rights. It may be possible to save money by undertaking your own patent search before approaching the legal professional. It may make you a more knowledgeable clients or allow you to avoid paying the legal professional for that service.
The next option for undertaking a patent search is to hire a third-party, patent search firm. These companies generally specialize in patent searches and charge a reduced rate from what an intellectual property attorney might charge. The major drawback of these services is that the search they perform is generally not as thorough as that of a patent attorney. Also, many companies that advertise lower rates are ripoffs. These companies do a cursory search that is practically useless. These firms generally seek to bundle numerous other patent, design, manufacturing, and logistic services together at a bargain price. This creates an incentive for them to not look very hard to find conflicting prior art that could disqualify the subject invention from patent protection.
The last option is to perform a patent search yourself. If you choose this option, you will need to educate yourself on the patent search process. After learning the tools available to you, you will need to undertake an organized approach to employing the various resources available. Remember, this is the best opportunity to identify prior art that could black your invention from patent protection or help you in the process of making novel claims for protection of your invention.
In this article, we discuss the various resources available to the patent searcher and a general approach to using them.
Google Patent Search Database
The first step in the process is to employ the Google patent database. Google offers a very powerful patent search function of a compiled patent database. The database contains patent filings from the United States, Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, WIPO, Russia, Germany, The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands, and a few other countries.
Google patent offers a “simple search” feature and an “advanced search” feature. The simple search functions allows for keyword searches for relevant technology, or it allows for direct search of publication numbers. It also allows you to employ boolean operators in your keyword searches. This is absolutely necessary when stringing together keywords for broad search. Further, the search can be narrowed by searches in the claims, title, and abstract sections of the indexed patent documents. It also allows for search by relevant classification codes. Lastly, it provides access to legal events affecting the status of the patent application. The advanced search function provides numerous additional search criteria that is not provided in the simple search, such as: inventor, assignee of patent rights, patent office, language, filing status, patent type, citing patent. It allows for identification of keywords in the description of the patent publication.
The primary thing that you should hope to achieve by first searching the Google database is to identify the filing classification or (CPC) for relevant patents. This will help you greatly when you perform more targeted searches within the identified patent classification.
The USPTO Database
As you are aware, the USPTO is the authority for granting patent rights. As such, they provide extensive resources to patent searchers.
The USPTO provides several database resources for patent search. The PatFT database provides full texts of patents filed after 1976 and PDF format images for pre-1976 filings. For this reasons, patent filing prior to 1976 are more difficult to search. The search engine does not allow for a thorough text search of the entire document. For this reason, it is important to identify current relevant patent applications making reference to prior filings. This will allow you to go back and retrieve the referenced patents.
The AppFT database provides full texts and images of patents applications filed. Not all patent applications are successfully prosecuted to completion. Nonetheless, a prior patent filing can effectively blog an inventor’s ability to secure patent rights in an invention that closely resembles a prior application. As such, doing a thorough AppFT database search is equally important.
The Patent Application and Retrieval (PAIR) database provides information on pending patent applications. This is particularly important for patent applications involving emerging technology. As the saying goes, technology changes every 18 months. As such, it is important to know whether someone has beat you to the punch in terms of seeking intellectual property protections that might interfere with your patent application. In this function, you can see the legal status of these pending patent applications. You can also see some of the correspondence between the patent office and the inventor.
Collectively, he database allows a quick search that allows keyword search across all fields and criteria. You can focus the search by class or sub-class, pursuant to the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system.
After using the Google database to do a rudimentary search for patents and identify the relevant patent classifications, you should be able to employ the USPTO database to perform a more targeted search. The USPTO resources focus on United States patent filings. You will need to employ other resources to do a thorough international patent search.
Patentscope is a free database put out by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This is a great option for searching patent applications from all major patent filing countries in one place. It also includes International Patent Applications filed under the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty).
The search interface is available in 9 languages. There are 4 primary search methods: Simple Search, Advanced Search, Advanced Search, Field Combination Search, and Language Search. Most self searcher will employ the simple search interface. It allows the searcher to search for:
• Specific reference number
• IPC code
• Specific date
• Subject matter expressed with simple keywords,
The search fields include:
• FRONT PAGE of patent document
• ANY FIELD in patent document
• FULL-TEXT of patent document
• ENGLISH TEXT search of patent document
• ID/NUMBER assigned to patent application
• IPC (International Patent Classification code)
• NAMES of inventor or applicant
• DATES of filing.
Armed with the information you derived from your Google and USPTO patent searches, you should be able to construct searches in these various fields. You should use similar keywords and prior CPC references in your search. PatentScope has an ADVANCED SEARCH option that allows additional search features, including Boolean operators, proximity operators, and range operators.
There is also a FIELD COMBINATION SEARCH that allows a targeted search based upon the searchers needs. Lastly, the Cross Lingual Information Retrieval (CLIR) function allows a search in various native languages.
Espace European Database
Espace is another international search database that focuses on European patent filings. It will allow you to search patent publications, machine translate patent documents (Chines, Japanese, and Korean to English), track emerging technologies, and identify what competitors are developing.
A major benefits of Espace is that it provides a powerful classification search tool to retrieve publications in a particular technical area. Espace provides a “Global Dossier”, which bring together documents when the same documents have been filed in multiple patent offices. It provides access to the correspondence (“File Wrapper”) between applicants/attorneys and the offices of filing (Canda, China, Europe, Korea, Japan, US, PCT applications, etc). Also, the common citation document (CCD) tool that provides a single point of acres to citation data for the patent applications in the largest five IP offices.