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Subject: Patent Research FAQ v.2.2

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:31 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: internet
All FAQs posted in: comp.patents
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Archive-name: internet/patent-research-faq Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: Mar 02 2000 URL: http://spireproject.com Copyright: (c) 2000 David Novak Maintainer: David Novak <david@cn.net.au>
Patent Research FAQ Welcome. This FAQ introduces the tools and concepts used in patent research. We are covering the process of locating comparable patents - not the legal process of patent protection. This FAQ resides at SpireProject.com/patfaq.txt SpireProject.co.uk/patfaq.txt and http://cn.net.au/patfaq.txt This FAQ is just a small part of a much larger effort to help you with information research. The Spire Project is available as 3 website, mirrors, zip-file, and 3 other faqs. I have included here a text version ofour patent research (http://cn.net.au/patents.htm). Enjoy, David Novak - david@cn.net.au The Spire Project : SpireProject.com, SpireProject.co.uk, Cn.net.au Patent Research A patent discloses certain facts about a commercially important invention in exchange for certain rights to exploit the invention. This is a little simplistic, but explains why patents are factual, unique from other research resources, and a little vague in certain specifics. (See a sample a sample US patent[1], Australian patent[2], and this brief description[3].) This article first addresses the most useful free databases, then describes national patent agency resources, commercial patent databases, then other commercial services. At the end of this article, we describe patent classification and patent search strategy. [1] Internet Free Patent Databases These databases are freely available online: [4] The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO[89]) provides a US Patent Bibliographic database at patents.uspto.gov[4] with full use of fields, date and abstract text searching. Choose between their boolean search[5], advanced (field) search[6] or by US patent number[7]. They also maintain a fulltext [US] Aids Patent Database and other resources. [43] The IBM's Patent Server is a public service providing a different patent database[43] of US Patent abstracts. The IBM service is similar but different from the USPTO service - certainly not less powerful. [8] The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO[9]) maintains the Canadian Patent Bibliographic Database[8] which extends from '89 to the present. Abstracts are not provided. Descriptive info is here[8]. [9] The Japanese Patent Office (www.jpo-miti.go.jp[9]) has a searchable database of Japanese patent abstracts[10], which includes the patent number, title, inventor, company, and abstract of the patent. There are more free patent databases - but each is limited and not as research-worthy. Consider also the Internet Patent Search System[11]. Gregory Aharonian (remember patents@world.std.com?) currently delivers US Patent titles retrieved by class/subclass. He also delivers Patent abstract retrieval using patent numbers (but currently from 1981 to 1989). As you now know, patent.uspto.gov also delivers abstract retrieval, but I like the more minimal title lists here. Library Patent libraries are an important and cost-effective patent resource. Australia IP Australia (www.ipaustralia.gov.au[4]) (formerly the Australian Industrial Property Organisation (AIPO)) has a patent library in each state capital[13]. Each library provides free access to the APAS database (Australian Patent Abstract Search) and includes a complete microfiche copy of all Australian patents and the Australian Official Journal of Patents, Trademarks & Designs (the official Australian patent gazette). Most offices also hold US Patents on microfiche!, so the free US patent databases will also interest you. Staff will help you use the APAS database, arranged for free text searching by International Patent Classification. [13] A particularly useful service by IP Australia is the delivery of copies of many foreign patents for AU$15. You will need the patent number, country and title for this. United States The US Patent and Trade Mark Organization (USPTO[89]) has the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program (PTDL's[21]) - which places the CASSIS database (The USPTO patent abstract database on CD-rom) and US patents around the US. Here is a list of sites[20]. US Full text Images are not visible on most web browsers. The images are in 300 dpi TIFF format. To view, get a free TIFF browser plugin for your browser. a) Try CPC light[12] or AlternaTIFF[13] b) Consult this list[14] at the USPTO. Further, the USPTO provides US Patent Bibliographic & fulltext (with images) databases online[4] with full use of fields, date and abstract text searching. Choose between their boolean search[5], advanced (field) search[6] or by US patent number[7]. The IBM's Patent Server provides a different patent database[43] of US Patent abstracts. [7] If you have the US patent #, retrieve the abstract from the USPTO[4]: [15] US patent libraries also hold the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, The official US patent gazette. Importantly, the gazette is fully online[15], and searchable from 1995-98. United Kingdom The [UK] Patent Office (www.patent.gov.uk[16]) provides for the Patents Information Network (PIN[23]) which hosts patent information in the UK. This page includes a clickable map[23]. The British Library is one listed source of UK patents (further information online[17]) and delivers some patent services. Canada The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) (cipo.gc.ca[9]) produces the Canadian Patent Index (CPI). They also publish The Patent Office Record, Canada's official patent gazette. [8] CIPO maintains a free Canadian Patent Fulltext Database[8]. This database is on par with the US Patent Database, with perhaps even better searching technology. Fielded & boolean searches are possible and abstracts, claims & pdf files are retrieved. Read this database overview[18] then use their advanced search[19]. Other Countries There are many more national & international patent organizations. Intitut National de la Propriete Industrielle[49] [France] World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)[20] European Patent Office[21] If you need to find other sites, consider reviewing this list by IP Australia[22], the USPTO[23], and David Wareing[24]. [25] CSIRO keeps a list of addresses for European Patent Libraries[25] Commercial One of the most invaluable resources in serious patent research is access to several of the very large commercial patent databases. Commercial Patent Databases Lexis-Nexis (www.lexis-nexis.com[51]) retails several patent databases. Thanks to Patscan (University of British Columbia), we also a guide to searching patents on Lexis-Nexis[26]. The Dialog Corporation (www.dialog.com[44]) retails a collection of patent databases including: Derwent World Patents Index[27] [Files 351,352,280] INPADOC[28] CLAIMS/U.S. PATENTS[29] [Files 340,341,942] EUROPEAN PATENTS FULLTEXT[30] [FILE 348] and others Cassis Database no details at this moment. A little more information can be found with the Patent Guide to using CASSIS[31], at the University of Michigan. Derwent Scientific and Patent Information (www.derwent.co.uk) is a prominent publisher of Patent and scientific information including commercial databases. Questel-Orbit (www.questel.orbit.com[54]) also retails patent databases, but we have not explored this venue yet. CAS/STN (www.cas.org[17]) retails a collection of patent databases including: Chemical Patents Plus[32] for U.S. Chemical patents In addition to the database retailers and producers, there is a lively industry of patent services. Patent Libraries : One source of patent assistance is, of course, the distributed patent libraries in each country. In addition to assistance with lodging patent documents, each library provides free access to bibliographical databases, and in the case of Australia, full text US and Australian patents on microfiche. IP Australia will also, for AU$15, retrieve most full patents from other countries (given a patent number, country & title). PATSCAN (www.library.ubc.ca/patscan[33]) within the University of British Columbia, provides patent search and retrieval services through databases like MicroPatent, the European Patent Office and others. QPAT (www.qpat.com[34]) offers full text patent searching for paying subscribers and free front page information of all U.S. patents issued since 1974 for people who register. MicroPatent (www.micropat.com[29]) offers limited recent patent searching and downloading of patent images for a fee. They have a registration system for the free service. Conclusion 3 Second Summary: Free internet patent databases exist for US, Canada, Japan & Australia. A better search strategy makes use of patent classifications. Patents are legalistic, with delays & delayed coverage in other countries. Until recently, the legal profession has had a complete monopoly on patent work. As you can see, this need no longer be the case. Casual researchers will find the free patent databases easy to use, and more experienced researchers should not be dissuaded from searching the commercial databases or patent libraries themselves. The very large commercial databases, like Inpadoc, are particularly easy to use. Of course, there are occasions when patent searches are critical, and experts should be sought. Certainly legal assistance is required if you are preparing to lodge your own patent, but patent data as a source of information is another matter. Strategy Patent Classification All patents are given a special number. Unfortunately, each country has a distinct numbering scheme: US patents are assigned a consecutive patent number (currently 5 million+). Australian patents have an alphanumeral which includes the year. Canadian patents are numbered. Above these numbering systems, we have the International Patent Classification (IPC), by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO[20]). Most every country uses the IPC to classify patents, save the US. US Patent Classification is similar in many ways. International Patent Classification Thanks to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Patent Classification (IPC) works as a universal classification for patents. Started in 1975 and periodically updated, we currently use IPC 6th Edition (1994). Work on IPC 7th Edition is well advanced. Section, Class & Group. The International Patent Classification looks like this: At the heart of the IPC is the unique coding of every invention by its specific form or function. The system is highly specific and logical, and includes numerous cross-references to other codes of similar form or function. Think of this as the Dewey Decimal System for patents. The first letter is the section - one of eight broad categories labeled A through G. A represents Human Necessities. B covers Transport. Each section is divided into Classes. Each class includes two numbers. In addition, each class is divided into subclasses, the letters which follow the first number. Each subclass is then divided into groups and subgroups. The number before the slash is the group, the number after the slash is the subgroup. Subgroups only have two digits, with further numbers considered as resting behind a decimal point: 3/46 then 3/464, then 3/47. Thus A 47 J 27/09 includes the safety device on your rice cooker and B 63 G 11/00 covers your various aircraft carriers. The IPC system is fully described in these published directories: The Official Catchword Index by World Intellectual Property Organization. International Patent Classification : Guide, Survey of Classes & Summary of Main Groups International Patent Classification : Section G - Physics International Patent Classification : Guide Thanks to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), these full documents are online (see this page[35]). We now have direct access to the International Patent Classification (6th Edition): Official Catchword Index[36], Guide to the IPC[37], and the complete Class and Section books[38]. Note: The International Patent Classification includes plenty of internal references - indicating this group is similar to another group; motorized boats take precedence over boat function. These internal references are important to effectively searching databases. There is more to the IPC, and we strongly recommend you read the Introductory Manual to the International Patent Classification (IPC)[39] found on the WIPO website. US. Patent Classification US Patents are classified with 400+ main classes and thousands of subclasses. Sound similar to the International Patent Classification? It is. US patents are numbered sequentially. This means you can find US patents: by full text searching through the USPTO database CASSIS (found at US patent libraries), by bibliographic & abstract text searching online through the USPTO or IBM Patent Library, by US Patent number,by US Patent Classification class & subclass - to list similar patents,by an effective combination search (see patent research strategy),by the searching recent notices in the Official Gazette... available online. The USPTO allows you to search or browse the US Manual of Classification[4] online. The Internet Patent Search System[40] lets you to browse US Patent titles by class/subclass. A little more information can be found with the Patent Guide to using CASSIS[31], at the University of Michigan. Patent Search Strategies Here are the avenues open to you: 1_ Full text searching and retrieval through a commercial database. 2_ Free bibliographic & abstract searching online followed by selective patent perusal/ordering. 3_ Paging manually through the relevant official gazette (the US gazette is searchable[15]). 4_ Retrieval of the titles & abstracts within appropriate class/subclass then selective review and patent perusal/ordering. This last avenue is particularly resourceful and swift. Start by reaching for The Official Catchword Index [here[36]], a book by World Intellectual Property Organization. This will tell you the possible class/subclasses which will interest you. You could word-search a patent database and note all the class/subclasses found. Lastly, you can always reach for the three separate printed guides which lead you from section to subclass. The result should be a collection of class/subclasses which may interest you. With this information, you can now browse all the patents in the class/subclass. This process will help you locate all the patents which may interest you since patent classification is more reliable than free text search. (Note, both British and American spelling appears in patent databases.) This also allows you to quickly review the patents in other countries. If you are undertaking a novelty search - is a patent sufficiently unique from other existing patents - then you must review more than one country. There can be a significant delay before patent applications reach other countries without affecting the protection. Case in point: Australia only accounts for 7% of the world's patents. Further Search Strategy [39] Patent search strategy is further discussed in the Introductory Manual to the International Patent Classification (IPC)[39] found on the WIPO website. [41] You may also wish to reach Searching for patents[41] from the University of Michigan, and Patents[42] by Simon Fraser University Libraries. This article comes from The Spire Project. Advice welcome : email david@cn.net.au [1] [2] http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip/examples/P_case2.htm [3] http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/patents/P_home.htm [4] http://patents.uspto.gov [5] http://patents.uspto.gov/access/search-bool.html [6] http://patents.uspto.gov/access/search-adv.html [7] http://patents.uspto.gov/access/search-num.html [8] http://Patents1.ic.gc.ca/intro-e.html [9] http://www.jpo-miti.go.jp [10] http://www.jpo-miti.go.jp/homee.htm [11] http://metalab.unc.edu/patents/intropat.html [12] http://www.cartesianinc.com/Products/CPCLite [13] http://www.mieweb.com/alternatiff [14] http://www.uspto.gov/patft/images.htm [15] http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/og [16] http://www.patent.gov.uk [17] http://www.bl.uk/services/sris/patents.html [18] http://patents1.ic.gc.ca/overview-e.html [19] http://patents1.ic.gc.ca/srch_adv-e.html [20] http://www.wipo.org [21] http://www.european-patent-office.org [22] http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/library/L_resrc7.htm [23] http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/other.html [24] http://www.aber.ac.uk/~dgw/patent.htm [25] http://www.cis.csiro.au/cis/lib/patlibs.html [26] http://www.library.ubc.ca/patscan/lexis.html [27] http://library.dialog.com/bluesheets/html/bl0351.html#AB [28] http://library.dialog.com/bluesheets/html/bl0345.html#AB [29] http://library.dialog.com/bluesheets/html/bl0340.html#AB [30] http://library.dialog.com/bluesheets/html/bl0348.html#AB [31] http://www.ummu.umich.edu/library/PTO/newCASSIS.html [32] http://casweb.cas.org/chempatplus [33] http://www.library.ubc.ca/patscan [34] http://www.qpat.com [35] http://www.wipo.org/eng/clssfctn/ipc/intro.htm [36] http://www.wipo.int/eng/clssfctn/ipc/ipc6en/nfcatch/index.htm [37] http://www.wipo.int/eng/clssfctn/ipc/ipc6en/guide/ent00001.htm [38] http://www.wipo.org/eng/clssfctn/ipc/ipc6en/index.htm [39] http://www.wipo.org/eng/general/ipc/manual [40] http://metalab.unc.edu/patents/intropat.html#Manual [41] http://www.ummu.umich.edu/library/PTO/newpatsearch.html [42] http://www.lib.sfu.ca/kiosk/nelles/patents.htm __________________________________________________ Copyright (c) 1999 by David Novak, all rights reserved. This FAQ may be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service, website, or BBS as long as it is posted unaltered in its entirety including this copyright statement. This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the author. Permission requests to david@cn.net.au Legalities: Information supplied here is put forward in good faith and entirely without expressed or implied warranty or fitness for use. The contents of this faq is simply a collection of information gathered from many sources with little or no editorial or factual checking. Further, this information are the thoughts of the authors alone and may not represent the beliefs of Community Networking or any sponsoring organization. Should you find a mistake or claim copyright infringement, please contact David Novak of Community Networking. ----------------------------------- David Novak - david@cn.net.au