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Inside the prior art search

Overview of patent searching

Develop a patent prior art Search Strategy
Determine type of patent search to be conducted. Formulate patent search terms/search queries Determine databases to be searched. Conduct patent search of sufficient breadth and scope for invention. Extraction and analysis of search result Preparation of search report

Patent Search methodology

Types of patent search mechanisms

There are 3 basic types of patent search mechanisms:

Classification searching - International Patent Classification (IPC), European Classification (ECLA), Current US Classification (USPC)

Text searching - Patent number, application number, publication number, priority number ,Inventor or assignee (applicant)/Company and Organization Names, keywords in (title, abstract, description, claims).
Citation searching - is a review of the documents cited by a patent of interest, as well as a review of the documents citing the patent of interest.

Conducting patent search

Syntax Keyword Searching Advanced Keyword Syntax and Techniques Boolean operators logic Nested Queries/Creating queries with Parentheses or Brackets Phrase searching Proximity Searching Word Stemming Search Term Weighting Wildcards/truncation Date Range Searching Class/subclass searching( IPC, USPC, ECLA) Assessing Search Results

-Is the search language for the database you are using -Different search engines rarely use the exact same search language. -Same syntax query in two different databases may give no result or erroneous results

Keyword searching
Done from (Title, abstract, claims) On the basis of -what is the invention -what does the invention do? -what application/problem does it solve?

Boolean operators
Boolean operators help you combine words or phrases to broaden or narrow your search.
Boolean Operator AND Example Mobile and Telephone Function Finds documents which have both mobile and telephone Finds documents which have either mobile or telephone or both Finds documents which have only mobile. The NOT operator excludes telephone completely


Mobile or Telephone


Mobile not Telephone

Order of precedence for Boolean operators is: NOT>AND>OR

Nested Queries/Creating queries with Parentheses or Brackets

Encloses search terms and their operators in parentheses or brackets Helps to specify the order in which they should be processed. The order of precedence for parenthesis and Boolean operators is: 1. Parentheses 2. NOT 3. AND 4. OR

Nested query Hair and dye or colorant (one or two and layer) and insulation

How it is interpreted (following order of precedence) (Hair and dye) or colorant (one or (two and layer)) and insulation

Phrase searching
This means two or more words entered without commas or other operators will be treated as a unit a phrase when the search is performed

Search syntax... relational database

Phrase searching Result set includes...

relational database
relational databases related databases relational databases method for querying multiple, distributed databases by selective sharing of local relative... method relating to databases database relational extenders


(relational AND database)


Proximity searching
Finds words that are near each other, rather than a literal phrase in which the words must be right next to each other .Helps to specify how near/distant you want your search terms to be.
Proximity operator "~"/ "~n" Query Results Documents with both enzyme and peptide, where both are within 3 words of each other

"Enzyme peptide"~3

<near> and <near/n> <order>

(inorganic <near/10> Documents with word inorganic near solvents) <in> claims solvent with next 10 words will be shown. (inorganic <order> <near/10> solvents) <in> claims Documents with word inorganic near solvent with next 10 words will be shown but inorganic will precede solvent.

Proximity searching contd..

Proximity operator Query <in> <ADJ> Result/Function monoclonal <in> title Documents with monoclonal word in the title will be shown Monoclonal <ADJ> antibody Terms appear in the order specified next to Term1 ADJ Term2 one another or within a prescribed number Term1 ADJ3 Term2 of words of one another. Terms appear in the same sentence. Terms appear in the same paragraph.


Disease <WITH> Detection Antigen <SAME> Glycoprotein

Word stemming
Is a language related tool, which determines the root of a word first, and then retrieves all possible variants.
Search term Compose Word stemming On (searches for variants of compose) Off (searches for exact word) On (searches for variants of compose) Matching results would have the words Compose, composes, composed, composing, composable, composition etc Composition Composition, Compositions, Compose, composes, composed, composing, composable etc.

Composition Composition

Search term weighing

Helps you to tell the search engine which term is more important, and how important it is over the other term.
Query Interpretation

DNA^5 or RNA

DNA is 5 times more important to the relevancy of documents than RNA. Finds all documents with either DNA or RNA, or both, but all other factors remaining the same, rank documents with DNA higher Patent on toothbrush holders are twice as important as any other kinds of holders. The no. enclosed in brackets corresponds to the weightage of the term.

([100](toothbrush AND holder) OR [50]holder)

Allows you to retrieve documents containing variations of a search term. Wildcard symbols can be used to replace a single letter or a part of a word, or one or more numbers.
Wildcard Query Result

? ? *

carbo? Analy?e carbo*


carbon ,carbox ,carboy Analyse and Analyze carbon ,carbonate ,carbonated ,carbohydrate ,carbonyl ,carboxylic ,Carborane ,carbonless
carbonate ,carbohydrate ,carboxylate-sulfate carboxydiketonate ,carbocysteinate carboxysulfonate ,carbothiolate carboxylic-acid-amidothiolcarbamate

Date Range Searching

Allows you to define or restrict the dates of your search. The most preferred format is YYYY-MM-DD. Generally done using mathematical symbols like(< ,> , = ). Query (Canon <in> PA) AND (image <in> TI) AND (PD<1991-01-01) Result All patents with Publication Date (PD) before (less than) 1991-01-01 with Canon as the Patent Applicant/Assignee (PA) with the word image in the Title (TI), are shown . Result set will include patents issued on 1989-01-01 and patents issued on 1990-1231 as well as all the patents issued in between (as long as they meet the rest of the specified criteria).

(Canon <in> PA) AND (image <in> TI) AND (PD>1988-12-31 AND PD<1991-01-01)

Class/Subclass searching
IPC , USPC , ECLA classification classify each patent into class and subclasses concerning their respective related fields.
The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) classifies patents by subject matter. There are hundreds of different categories, and each of the categories has many sub-categories (and often, each of the sub-categories has sub-categories). Foe ex:- a patent having 330/4 USPC code belongs to class 330 having subclass 4

Class/Subclass searching
The "IPC" (International Patent Classification) and the "ECLA" (European Classification). The format of these classifications is as follows. A sample IPC would be C12N 7/00; it consists of a section (letter-C), class (numbers-12), subclass (letter-N), main group (numbers-7), a slash, and the subgroup (numbers-00). However, it may be as short as a section and class. ECLA is really an extended version of the IPC system. ECLA adds addition letters or numbers on to the end of the IPC classification on to the end to allow for more categories, and thus hopefully more accurate categorization.

The International Patent Classification

The IPC divides patentable technology into 8 key areas: Section A: Human Necessities Section B: Performing Operations, Transporting Section C: Chemistry, Metallurgy Section D: Textiles, Paper Section E: Fixed Constructions Section F: Mechanical Engineering, Lighting, Heating, Weapons Section G: Physics Section H: Electricity

Patent databases Free databases US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Espacenet - European Patent Office (EPO) WIPO database Google patent search Free patent online, Patentgenius, Patent Lens, Indian patent office
Non patent databases

Paid databases STN Wipsglobal DialogPRO GlobalPat Publicus

Delphion Patentweb Aureka Derwent MicroPatent, etc.

Google scholar, Scirus, NCBI, Pubmed , science direct etc.

Subject databases Biotechnology NPL- (Elsevier, science direct, Springer link, oxford press) Patents- BIOSIS, BIOTECHABS/BIOTECHADS

Chemistry Patents chemical abstracts(CA), CAB abstracts

Sequence databases- DGENE ,PCT GENE , pat databases (BLASTable Genbank databases) Computer and electronics IEEExplore,Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Softbase, Ei Compendex, INSPEC ,National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Japanese Science & Technology (JICST-EPlus), PASCAL




Google patents