WIPO Patent Search
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WIPO Patent Search: A Step-By-Step Guide
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. The purpose of WIPO is to "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.” In furtherance of it’s mission, it provides perhaps the most comprehensive database of international patent applications available. More specifically, it allow for access to regional and national patent applications from all countries participating in the Patent Cooperation Treaty of 1970 (PCT).
These countries and organizations who are a part of the PCT include: ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, EPO (European Patent Office), Egypt, Estonia, EAPO (Eurasian Patent Office), Germany, Germany (DDR data), Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, LATIPAT, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Russian Federation (USSR data), Singapore, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam
Best of all, access to the database is free. For individuals who do not speak english, patentscope allows for search in 9 languages, There is even a “simple search function” available for searches on a mobile phone.
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 - A specific reference number can be part of a regional or national classification system. It could also be a number assigned pursuant to filing through the PCT.
• Inventor, Company, or Applicant - It may be the case that the searcher is either aware of the inventor or applicant. In such a case, you can search their names directly. More often, however, the searcher may be aware of a company that produces a competing invention. It may be the case that they have purchased the patent rights to produce the invention. As such, it may be useful to determine who owns patent rights. This function can be incredibly useful for strategic functions as well. Being able to search in this manner allows you to identify the patent rights that the competitor company may hold, or it may simply allow you to keep an eye on what the competition is doing in the way of intellectual property rights. You certainly do not want to find yourself in litigation for infringing upon the patent rights of another. Also, you may not want to fall behind in the continued development of your invention.
• International Patent Code - The IPC was established by agreement in 1971. It allows for a hierarchical system of language (independent of symbols) for the classification of patents based upon different areas of technology to which they pertain. This system greatly facilitates the patent search process by significantly narrowing the focus of a keyword search.
• Specific date - It may be the case that you are searching for patent filings on a particular date or within a particular date range. If so, Patentscape’s system allows for search along these parameters.
• Subject matter expressed with simple keywords - All patents are entered into the system with keyword descriptors. The keywords hope to capture the nature, use, and functionality of the invention. Searching with keywords is the primary approach within any field or classification. The tricky aspect of this type of search concerns the keywords employed. You must think along the purpose and use of the invention. Once you identify keywords, you must seek to identify synonyms that could be used instead. Carrying on a keyword search is much more of an art than a science.
• Weekly Updates - There is also a function that allows you to browse all international patent applications published in a given week. This is more of an interesting function than a truly useful one. It can, however, allow you to keep track of what type of intellectual property activity is happening. If you are watching the activities of specific companies, it can be a great service.
There are 8 pre-defined search fields available, including:
• FRONT PAGE of patent document - The front page of the patent document generally contains the general description, tile of the invention, and name of the inventors. Searching just the front page can be useful if you know that a specific word or name will be used for an invention.
• ANY FIELD in patent document - This search function is far more broad than the front page search. It allows you to search all of the relevant fields of the patent application. This can include the title, description, specifications, and claims.
• FULL-TEXT of patent document - Full text of the patent will return any keywords that show up within the text of the patent in any field. It is a very broad search category.
• ENGLISH TEXT search of patent document - It may be that a patent is written in a language other than English. This function allows for you to search for the English translation of the patent.
• ID/NUMBER assigned to patent application - There may be various numbers assigned to a single patent application. For example, there could be number assigned by the home country (regionally or nationally). There could be a PCT number assigned as well.
• IPC (International Patent Classification code) - As previously discussed, the patent classification code is extremely useful for categorizing patent applications. Searching within these predefined fields can greatly narrow your search results and make your search more efficient. With the volume of patent filings, you aren’t going to be able to wast time sifting through everything out there.
• NAMES of inventor or applicant - It is possible that you know the name of the original inventor or applicant for patent rights. If so, you are able to limit your search to the inventor or applicant field.
• DATES of filing - Searching by the dates of filing can be useful for certain strategic purposes.
Patentscope is made to be very thorough while still being somewhat user friendly. To uses the simple search function, you must:
• Select a field to search (any of the 8 pre-defined fields),
• Select the language of search (if you have selected the “full text” field),
• Enter specific search terms (remember, the appropriate use of keywords can be very important. We will discuss how operators within the advanced search function can make a keyword search more effective.),
• Select the pre-defined collections for your search (hopefully you are able to identify some of the primary categories for classification),
• Then click search.
Just like that, voila, you have a list of patents that correspond to your search criteria.
<H2>Patentscope Advance Search</h2>
The advanced search function in Patentscape works very similarly to the simple search function. Though, it does require a bit more effort. All of the same search criteria are still present, but the search capability allows for greater complexity.
Most notably, the advanced search function allows for searches of single terms and phrases. These keywords and phrases can be strung together strategically to make a far more targeted search. The search interface allows for the use of Boolean, proximity, and range operators to string keywords together for more complex searches. Boolean operators are and/or/not functions associated with many detailed search systems. Proximity operators allow you to search for words that are within a certain proximity of each other. Range operators generally allow you search a particular range of numbers. This can be useful when you have part of an associated or identifiable number to search.
The Porter Stemming Algorithm is used to search for a common root or stem of certain words. This allows you to search parts of words that may be used in a unique way to describe an invention. A “wildcard search” allows for letters to be replaced for additional options in searching for words with common roots. For example, instead of searching for electricity, you may search electr* or Elect*ty.