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Patent & Trademark Resource Center Library
Current Challenges in Patent Information Retrieval
Why Search Patents?
- To determine whether your invention meets the requirements for patentability under 35 USC 101 - 103: Novel, non-obvious, useful (“Patentability Search”)*
- To determine areas of opportunity (State of the Art search)
- To determine whether a product infringes an existing patent (Infringment Search)
- To determine whether an existing patent is valid in light of already published prior art. (Validity Search).
- To do research on a company.
Patentability Search: What to Examine
Examine prior art, which is any publication in the public domain. Prior art includes:
- Published patent applications - U.S. and foreign
- Granted patents - U.S. and foreign
- Non-patent literature - journals, papers, web sites, manuals, patent landscape reports, etc.
For details on what constitutes prior art, see Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, 900
Search by Patent Classification
You will want to search by CLASSIFICATION in order to get more results than a keyword search, and for increased accuracy.
On January 1, 2013 the US PTO began using the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system for published utility patent applications. In January 2015 the US PTO is scheduled to use the CPC for granted utility patents as well as published applications.
See the USPC-to-CPC Concordance Tool on the U.S. Patent and Trademark OFfice website.
Search by Cross-Reference
You will also want to search by CROSS-REFERENCE to be thorough. Once you find a relevant patent, see what patents and classification numbers are referred to by the patent.
Keep in mind that you can Shepardize or Keycite a patent to turn up cases, litigation documents and related patents.
(Format for shepardizing - shep: patno 6553350)
The USPTO's Seven Step Process - a summary
- Write out keywords to use to find classifications.
- Search USPTO site to find patent classifications
- Verifty the relevance of patent classifications by viewing the definition, if that classification has a definition
- Retrieve granted patents with those classifications numbers - http://patft.uspto.gov. Pick out the most relevant ones.
- Review in depth the patents you selected above. Pay close attention to the additional drawings pages, the specification and especially the claims. References cited by the applicant and/or patent examiner may lead you to additional relevant patents. Look at Current U.S. Class and Current International Class to see if any more classes apply.
- Retrieve published patent applications with classifications you selected. http://appft.uspto.gov/
- Broaden your search to find additional U.S. patent publications using keyword searching in PatFT or AppFT databases, classification searching of non-U.S. patents on the European Patent Office's Worldwide Espacenet patent database (http://worldwide.espacenet.com(link is external)) and searching non-patent literature disclosures of inventions using the free electronic and print resources of your nearest Patent and Trademark Resource Center (http://www.uspto.gov/ptrc).
See the USPTO's Seven Step Strategy
Historical Searching by Inventor Name
Free Patent Search Sites
United States Patent and Trademark Office
Full text patents issued from 1976 - current (search the full text by keyword). PDF images for all patents 1790 - current (these can be searched by classification number, issue date, patent number) plus full text and image versions of full text patent applications (2001-)
Look at both granted patents (Pat FT)
and published patent applications (AppFT)
Free Patents Online
Issued patents and published patent applications from the USPTO, WIPO, EPO, Japanese Abstracts, German Patents Beta and non-patent literature
Issued patents and published patent applications from the USPTO, EPO and WIPO and non-patent literature
patent data sets for U.S., European Patent Office, WIPO and Australian patents. More will be added. Also contains scholarly articles.
Use another database listed here, such as Google Patents, and find one or two patents similar to your invention. Then, go to Public Pair (sort of a docket of patent applications) and see what prior art the patent examiner found against the application for those similar patents. (Look in the Image File Wrapper tab.) See IP WatchDog
. Note that the image file wrapper may not be available for patents older than 1999. You can order a certified file wrapper for a fee by clicking on the link in the upper right.
In addition to a search, this site provides analytics, creation of graphics and abilitiy to follow (get updates on) a patent, patent owner, technology or inventor. Data is from 1980. "Our site pulls its data from the USPTO office, other government patent offices and several private databases." Has a free version and for-fee versions.
International Patent Offices - with Free Searches
Commercial Databases for Patent Searching
Commercial databases offer easier searching with more whistles and bells than the freely available databases.
Derwent Innovations Index
An index of worldwide patent and citation information for inventions in chemical, electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineering. Contains abstracts of patents with possible links to cited and citing patents, and cited articles. 1963-current.
Derwent makes searching easier because you can search by codes created by Derwent. You can search by Class Code( Subject of the patent, such as automotive electronics, or nuclear reactors and simulators); Manual Codes (indicates the novel technical aspects of an invention, and also its applications.) and patent assignee codes to standardize company names, which will pull up patents for subsidiaries and related companies.
Derwent is owned by Thomson Innovation.
Bloomberg Law Patent Search
. After finding a relevant patent or patent application, you can quickly toggle between a customizable view of the patent itself, related documents (including citing and cited patents, court opinions, USPTO opinions, and Federal District Court and International Trade Commission dockets), and assignment records.
Westlaw Edge - Patents and Applications
Contains United States Patents and Applications, PCT Patent Applications, Asia Pacific Patents and Applications, Europe Patents and Applications.
Note that you can Keycite a patent in Westlaw Edge
Bierce Library Guide - Finding Patents
Links to subject databases that contain patent in their results, such as Reaxys, SciFinder Scholar, and Polymer Library.
There are other very sophisticated databases that the law school does not subscribe to, such as:
STN provides an information advantage. Only STN offers access to the world's scientific information on one integrated platform, including the authoritative chemistry content from CAS and patent content from Thomson Reuters' Derwent World Patents Index®
Video: How to Search for Patents
More Videos on Patent Research
Patent Searching How-to Documents
Patent Searching Made Easy
Call Number: Ask Sue Altmeyer
Publication Date: 2013
Searching for Patents owned by a Company
- Patents may be in the name of a Patent Holding Company, not the Corporation.
- On the company's website, search for managers or employees with "technology" or "research" in their title, and search these names as an inventor.
- Run a trademark search for the company's product and find the owner (search as assignee).