Patent Searching Strategies for Inventors


First step to filing a patent is to conduct a patentability search in order to ensure the novelty of the invention. Patentability search involve different patent searching strategies depending on the type of invention and technical field. Knowledge of these strategies helps to conduct a more comprehensive search.

Some of the most commonly used Patent Searching strategies are:

Some patent strategies deliver great results individually. However, in some cases, Firms need a combinaton of strategies to get better results. Take a look at different strategies.

Keywords Based Search:

The keywords based search is the most basic patent searching strategy. It involves keywords put together as a “string” to carry out the search in patent databases. This strategy involves identification of keywords that define the invention, locating terms similar to the invention, and forming key strings to use in the search query in the patent database.

Classification Based Search

Experts classify patents on the basis of their technical field. This helps in focusing on relevent patent related to a particular domain. Performing classification based search involves, identifying one or more classes that are relevant to the invention disclosure. There are various types of classifications, such as IPC, USPC, CPC, and ECLA. The searcher has to identify the relevant classification type based on his/her search needs. Often times, classification search yield large set of patent documents. Therefore, generally, the classification search is almost always used in combination with keywords, to narrow the scope.

Citation Based Search

Patent document include backward (references cited in the patent document) and forward citations (references cited by current patent document). Citations to any patent are references that are related to the technology area of the patent, and often disclose one or more feature of that patent. Therefore, citations of a patent may lead to other references which may be relevant to a search. In other case, if you find one relevant reference disclosing features of the target invention, you can analyze the citations of that document to uncover more related references.

Assignee Based Search

This type of search strategy is particularly useful if the technology area of the invention disclosure has relatively few companies which had or have been filing patents in that particular technology area. This type of patentability search can help to narrow all the patents that have been filed by those assignees. The result set could be further analyzed to shortlist related patents. Sometimes this type of search works better in combination with keywords and/or classifications to limit the number of patent hits in the search.

Inventor Based Search

The search is similar to the assignee based search discussed above. Here instead of using the name of the one or more companies, the searcher might be interested in extracting patents filed by one or a list of inventors. Also,A more comprehensive patentability search would always involve a combination of these patent searching strategies.

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