There has been a tremendous improvement in patent searching in the past decade. The objective behind searching for patents is to find prior art for an existing patent or for an invention for which a patent application is yet to be filed. Earlier, searchers and inventors used to manually search, spending hundreds of hours to find invention(s) similar to their idea.
A quick way to search for patents is using Google Patent Search. The world’s most popular search engine does more than just crawl websites to send you their search results. Google’s sister search engine Google Patent (Database from IFI Claims) can not only search scholarly literature, but it also has the ability to search a huge repository of non-patent literature too- software, applications, manuscripts, and published articles. Google Scholar lets you search government databases too, thus increasing the reach of the patent search.
What is Google Patent Search?
It is a search engine powered by Google which indexes patents and patent applications. Google Patents indexes 87 million patents and patent applications, with full text from more than 17 patent offices around the world. Launched on December 14, 2006, it uses the same technology as Google Books. Google Patents includes text-searchable patents dating back as far as the 1790s.
Advantages of Google Patents:
There are many paid databases too, but a solo inventor might not be able to cough up the costs to get the license for them. Google Patents has a much better interface than all of these paid databases. You will also be able to get the results faster, they are provided in an easy-to-share PDF format, and the information is presented in a digestible format.
- It understands results with PDF, image and citations
- Its relevancy ranking makes quick searches a reality
- The results can also be filtered by date
- Proximity Operators can be leveraged to improve the score if the documents have expressions near one another
- Keyword and class-based search is possible in the patent documents
- Co-operative Patent Classification (CPC) code searching is easier
- Searching on Google Patents is similar to searching anything on Google
- You can get the most relevant results for your search query.
- It is possible to find prior arts
- Provides similar documents/patents to the subject patent
How to use Google Patent Search?
If you want to conduct a quick search, all you need to do is enter the term in the search field box. The search term can be a set of unstructured words, a large block of text relating to the invention or keywords pertaining to the technology.
The searcher can also enter the following to get information about related patents:
- Application number
- Exact phrases with double quotes
- CPC code
- Country code
- Publication number
- Search for the inventor or assignee
For example, we have entered the search term as ‘medical equipment,’ and we are shown a list of patents that are in the medical equipment field. You will be able to see a number of options on the left side using which you can further filter the search results. The results are sorted for relevance, you can use other sorting options such as newest or oldest. The searcher can navigate through the result pages to find relevant patents.
Importance of Boolean Operators in Google Patent Search:
To fine-tune one’s queries, searchers should use boolean operators and special characters. One of the best ways to leverage Google Patent Search is to understand how it interprets search requests. Here is how you can use it to its full extent.
- Keyword search rules:
- The keywords that you use must be exact and specific
- Be aware of the right keyword order in which you need to input your search query. The search term medical equipment is going to fetch you more relevant results relating to medical equipment than ‘equipment medical.’
- The keyword searches are not case-sensitive.
- The AND Assumption:
If you type the keyword medical equipment, Google Patent Search is always going to assume it to be medical and equipment. Therefore, it will search for patents that contain the words medical and equipment.
To search for a particular term, add a ‘+’ (plus) sign in between the words in the query.
- NOT Command:
If you want to find patents without a certain search term, then you need to use the ‘-’ (minus) sign in front of the word in the query. The ‘-’ sign indicates that the searcher doesn’t want results of patents that contain that term.
Make sure that there is no space between the minus symbol and the word.
When searching for patents related to laptops, if you don’t want anything that pertains to touchscreen technology, this is how you should input your query. For the above search, you will not get patents that talk about touchscreen.
- While searching for a specific phrase:
When searching for an exact phrase, you can use quotation marks around the keywords. For example, if the searcher inputs:
“Contract Lifecycle Management”
Google Patents will only search for patents that will contain the entire phrase “contract lifecycle management.”
Searchers can include more than one quoted string in a query. The implied AND works not only on individual words but also on quoted phrases.
- The OR Command:
When the searcher wants to search for one word or the other, they should enter OR (in capitals) between the keywords. Any or all the search terms separated by the OR should appear in the record.
Chip OR Charger
In the above scenario, Google Patents will search for patents containing either the word chip or the word charger.
Google Patents Advanced Search:
On the Google Patents interface, you can get the advanced search option by clicking the link ‘patents.google.com/advanced.’ It has more search fields that will help you search for the desired patent applications. Let’s see what these fields are and how they can be used for different types of searches.
Search Terms: Use the space to enter all the relevant keywords.
Before priority/publication/filing: In this search field, you can enter the priority date, date of publication or filing date of any patent. By entering the relevant details, you will be able to search for documents that are published, filed or have a priority date before a particular date. This feature can also be used for invalidity searches where the intent is to find out documents that have been published before a particular date.
After priority/publication/filing: Using this search field, you can search patent documents that are published, filed or have a priority date after a particular date.
Assignee: In this search field, you can search for patents that have been filed by a particular company or person. It is possible to track the patent filing activities of that person/company using this field.
Patent Office: If you want to search for patents from a particular jurisdiction, this is the field that you need to use. You can search patent documents from more than 23 jurisdictions around the globe using this search field.
Inventor: With this, you can search for patents filed by a particular inventor and can also track their patent filing activities.
Filing status: You can search for the status of specified patent applications.
Patent Type: You can do a patent search for design or utility patents here.
CPC: Search for patent documents based on a particular CPC.
Citing Patent: It allows you to search for patent documents for which only one particular document was cited during the examination.
Languages: You can search for patent documents in 14 languages.
With more and more filters added to your patent search, you will be able to get more accurate results.
For the same search term, we have added the patent office as the US and the type of patent as design, the number of search results has dwindled down to 2,884. Earlier, it was 134,000+ results.
Source: Google Patent Search
It is best advised to use relevant parameters to get the most relevant results.
Limitations of Google Patents Search:
Since the patent database of Google is not updated regularly, you might not be able to find the latest data, and it may only have the first version of each patent. Also, since this is a free portal, Google does not take responsibility for the information that is presented in its search results. Therefore, you need to check for the veracity of the information from the respective patent offices or use a professional to confirm the same. This might not be the case with paid databases as they will verify the claims made here.
For those who are beginning, Google Patent Search is a wonderful tool, but if you are looking for a comprehensive set of results, then it is advised to take the services of a professional. There are some inventions that are so complex, and are not easy for inventors to search nor would they have the time to pore through the vast literature in a reasonable period of time without professional help.
If you are looking to get a basic idea related to your invention, then Google Patent Search should be your go-to tool. As we have mentioned above, it does come with a few limitations. When the purpose of your search is not critical, you needn’t think twice about using it. Let’s say you spend hundreds of hours poring through a large amount of patent literature, you are either doing it wrong or you’ve struck gold in terms of an invention.
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