If you’re like me, you might be a little bit confused by the patent searching services out there. Not only are there are a lot of company names to be confused by, all these companies seem to use different indexes with confusing acronyms (DWPI, INPADOC, PFS, PRS, etc). Furthermore, it is often difficult to tell which company has merged, been acquired, or resulted in new or discontinued services. I’ve attempted to make sense of the current patent mining landscape by researching the well-known indexes and databases and, because of my good-naturedness, I’ve decided to share that knowledge with you. I have limited my discussion to those services that include patent search functionality, intentionally leaving out services with only patent-ordering or patent-analytics features. For purposes of clarity, I have organized the list alphabetically. Let me know if there are any others you’d like to add to the list.
Patent Searching Services
Aureka – Acquired by Thomson, this service seems to struggle. The website had dead links and, since owned by Thomson, will most likely vanish into the Innovation horizon.
Boliven – Search tool that boasts over 60 million patents and patent applications. With free subscription options, this service integrates the following sources: Patent – USPTO, EPO, PCT, JPO, KIPO, INPADOC; Clinical trials – NIH/NLM/FDA; company reports – SEC; drugs – FDA; grants – NIH, NSF, SBIR, STTR; legal proceedings – PACER; medical devices – FDA; and over 5,500 publications. Boliven limits you to 30 results if you are not a paid subscriber. If you have a very specific query, this should be no problem though. If you would like a free 30-day trial, you can go to this site: www.boliven.com/freetrials. You will be prompted to enter some information. Once you submit that, you need to enter a promo code. The promo code you can enter for 30 days of Boliven bliss is TrentOstler3. Try it out.
Decopa (or IPCentury, the parent company behind DECOPA) “IP Analysis”- a neural-net-based artificial intelligence tool/knowledge base that uses latent semantic analysis to search for relevant patent documents. Submitting a query in DECOPA returns a list of related patent numbers ranked by relevancy. Instead of browsing the document content in-system, users are provided with links to view the search results on one of several other major patent search sites: esp@cenet, the USPTO website, or Delphion.
DialogPro (Predictable Research Online) – Created specifically for the small business user. It offers a flat subscription-based pricing structure and unlimited access. Searchers accustomed to more flexible or comprehensive options may be disappointed. US, EP, WO/PCT coverage.
Dialog1 – The simplest of the Dialog suite of products, Dialog1 is a web browser-based search tool that uses a simple “question and answer” format aimed at users who want to find relevant information quickly.
DialogClassic Web – Web browser access to the full power of classic command-mode Dialog.
DialogSelect – Aimed at less experienced end-users rather than professional patent searchers or information professionals.
Dialog Web – A web browser-based search interface that combines two separate and distinctly different modes of searching. The first mode provides the full content and functionality of command-mode Dialog classic, while the second mode is a guided search designed for novice searchers.
Delphion– Full-text search for US, European Patent Office and World Intellectual Property Organization patents. A decent tool for quick or occasional patent searchers; not ideal for full time patent searchers. Databases include US, PCT, EP, Japan and Germany. Eventually Thomson will likely fade this service into Innovation.
EAST (Examiner Automated Search Tool) – The free service is very powerful, especially for searching US data. Lightning-fast image searching is ideal for searchers in the mechanical arts. Full document text may be searched on U.S. patents issued since 1971 and OCR text from 1920 to 1970. U. S. patent images from 1790 to the present may be retrieved for viewing or printing. Some foreign patent documents may be searched using EAST as well as access to DWPI. The only catch is that this service is only accessible in Arlington Va, the USPTO Public Search Facility in Alexandria, VA.
Ei Patents – Contains 9.9 million US patents and 3.5 million patents filed with the EPO. Designed to accommodate novice and expert users alike, with multiple search forms ranging from a simple Google-style search bar, to a complex command line search. Bought by Elsevier.
Esp@cenet – Free source of patent bibliographic data, images, families, and legal status data. The service allows you to search across 80+ countries title and abstracts. It also provides full-text searching for the EP database. Uses the DOCDB bibliographic and legal status data file covering the EP and WO/PCT.
FreePatentsOnline – Free service, useful entry level tool for searching major patent collections. It compares well with other free patent search systems in terms of managing queries, alerts, and saving records. The available data collection that includes US (patents and applications), EP, JP, and WO/PCT data. PDF files are available for all collections except Japan.
GenomeQuest IP – Normalizes, curates, and updates IP information across global databases, including USPTO, EPO, WIPO & PCT, INPADOC, GenBank, EMBL, DDBJ, SIPO, and paper filings from WIPO. Over 265,000 patents — including their sequences and all annotations — are now stored and updated bi-weekly in the GQ-PAT database. Users can also add in-house sequence data to GQ-IP.
Google Patent Search – The relevant results (Google-power) and the very fast search and image load times set this tool apart and make it a must use as a first step. Searches over 7 million published applications and patents, but not very extensive, covering only the US.
illumin8 – Contains 23 million patents from 5 worldwide patent offices as well as millions of scientific articles. Affiliated with Elsevier.
infoapps – Ready-to-use projects at a fixed price. Approximately 67 million patent documents available.
Innography – Over 70 million global patent documents updated weekly. Databases include US Grants, US Applications, EU Grants, EU Applications, World Patent Office Applications, Japan Applications, and INPADOC bibliographic data from 40 jurisdictions and 70 countries. Also, includes patent analysis software, notable for the integration of business and legal data into its patent database, including Dun & Bradstreet financial information, and the PACER database of US litigation.
IPQuester – Bibliographic data (back-files plus updates) of patent, trademark, utility model and design as it is published by official sources from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Uruguay, United States and Venezuela. Full-text Brazilian patents and utility models (back-files plus updates), including bibliographic, claims and drawings. Couldn’t get this to work properly.
JPDS (Japan Patent Data Service) – provides web-based English language search engine “JP-NETe” for Japanese unexamined patents after 1989 including legal status information, and Japanese search engine “JP-NET” for Japanese patents, utility models, designs and trademarks including legal status information, together with US patent data after 1985. Flat rate for 5,000 Japanese yen per month without any additional charge.
JP-NETe – Auxiliary tool for users looking for a source of Japanese data, especially complete patent drawing sets and legal status. $750/yr.
KIPRIS – internet-based patent document search service which is available to the public free of charge. It covers publications of Korean IPR applications, legal status information and trial information, etc. Korea Institute of Patent Information has been providing KIPRIS since 1996 on behalf of KIPO.
MicroPatent PatentWeb – Uses two databases: MPI-INPADOC Plus (a bibliographic database), and PatSearch FullText. Scope of search includes US, EP, WO/PCT, DE, FR, GB coverage. Although the system is still a strong tool for searching in important full text collections, both its user interface and data coverage now lag behind other commercial search engines. Thomson will most likely fade this product into the Innovation horizon also.
Minesoft – database coves over 28 million patent families, 75+ patent-issuing authorities, English abstracts, bibliographic details, also integrated legal status, full text display, PDF patent document ordering using PatBase (joint product with RWS Group), PatBase Express, PatentOrder, PatentArchive, PatentViewer, Patent Tracker, and/or Patent Family Portal. Updated each week.
Pantros IP – Utilizes Latent Semantic Analysis for analytics, semantic, guided and advanced search technology, and portfolio quality analysis. Natural language and artificial intelligence serve as the core foundation in our IP solutions greatly improving research, analytics, and evaluation precision, speed and results.
PatBase – provides functionality that is easy for beginners to learn, and coverage is large for a system with such a simple interface: full text records for the US, PCT/WO including original non-Latin language documents, EP, GB, DE, FR, JP, KR, IN, TW and CN, as well as title, abstract and claims for Canadian (CA) documents. The tool purposely lacks functionality needed by advanced and commercial searchers.
PatBase Express – Quick and easy to use interface for beginners; access to the majority of the commercial PatBase data; faceted “Optimise search” sidebar can allow quick refining of results. Coverage: US, EP, WO/PCT, JP, CN, DE, FR, GB, KR, IN, TW.
Patent Cafe Prosearch – Has since been purchased by Pantros IP and entirely integrated into the Pantros IP suite of products.
Patent Lens – Well rounded, free, data coverage, including US patents and applications, EP patents, PCT applications, and Australian patents and applications. Good secondary tool for accessing Australian full text data or doing quick and uncomplicated searches. Lacks in-depth search options or record handling to do extensive searches.
Patent Integration – Provides patent search, analysis, visualization, and collaboration composed of a worldwide patent database and special multi-platform client software. Includes over 20 million patent gazettes from Japan, America, Europe, China and Taiwan. Download the application and register to get a userid and password to explore the application.
PriorSmart – Free, low-frills, all-in-one international search portal. “meta search engine.” Also includes fee-based patent-monitoring service.
Patents.com – Free search of US and EP patent collections. Over 12 million patents available.
PatentSurf.net – Free “discovery engine” that doesn’t focus on keywords.
PatSnap.com –PatSnap includes good search interface and analytics tools. Free coverage includes US (applications, utility patents and design patents), EP (applications and patents), WO/PCT. Other available databases include KR, JP, NO, and CN. As of today, the service touts 31,841,190 patents.
QPat – A spin-off of Questel-Orbit’s command environment QWeb, QPAT is a web-based search tool that accesses Questel’s full text patent files, as well as its unique FamPat family and bibliographic database. The tool is one of the only systems to offer the unique FamPat file, with its exclusive definition of patent families. Although the actual data coverage should be similar to INPADOC, this family database is divided into much smaller family units.
Qweb – Web-based command line interface based on the Questel-Orbit database system. Powerful system designed for powerful users comfortable with the connect hour fee structure. The usual patent coverage is presently: US, EP, WO/PCT, as well as other major national collections DE, GB, FR, JP, and other national collections AT, IN, FI, ES, RU, BR, CA, DK, SE, SU, CN, CH, TW and BE.
Raytec PAT-LIST-CN/WEB – JP patents, utility model, design, foreign patents using the INPADOC, DWPI, and CLAIMS databases.
Search4IP – Free. Database consists of over 70 million patent documents from over 70 countries. The patent data is updated once a week.
STN® – CAS – USA – Allows users to use all three databases CAplus, DWPI, and INPADOCDB simultaneously. Operated jointly by CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) and FIZ Karlsruhe worldwide and is represented in Japan by JAICI.
STN International – FIZ-Karlsruhe – Europe – online database service that provides global access to published research, journal literature, patents, structures, sequences, properties, and other data.
SumoBrain – Free service, useful entry level tool for searching major patent collections. It compares well with other free patent search systems in terms of managing queries and saving records. The weighting operators are worth checking out as a different way to hone searches. Coverage includes US, PCT, EP, and JP.
SureChem – Highly effective chemical structure searching tool with valuable chemical indexing. Is not a substitute for more complex tools such as STN which can do more detailed chemical searching. Covers US, EP, WO/PCT, and JP databases.
Surf-IP – Free service, sponsored by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore covering a wide range of patent databases including a significant portion of Asian databases. A good tool for searching US documents, as well as Asian collections. Databases cover US (applications and patents), WO/PCT, SG, EPO, UK, CN, CA, KR, TH, and TW. However, the features are not robust enough to replace a good commercial search tool.
TotalPatent – This system offers impressive foreign coverage and a friendly user interface; however, some impediments to workflow efficiency remain. The semantic search option is a unique offering. Coverage: at least US, EP, WO/PCT, AT, AU, BE, BR, CA, CH, CN, DD, DE, DK, EA, ES, FI, FR, GB, IE, IN, IT, LU, MC, NL, PT, RU, SE, SU. May also include small or developing collections for BG, CU, CZ, EE, GR, HR, LV, MX, NO, NZ, RO, SK, UA, ZA. Full text original language collections for JP are available for display only.
Thomson Innovation – Thomson’s “best of” service. A worthy all-in-one patent and literature search tool. Frequent product updates in the period after launch have resolved some initial bugs in system stability. Coverage: US, EP, WO/PCT, JP, DE, GB, FR, KR.
Treparel PatentPilot – Online patent information and monitoring service with integrated search engine, automatic patent document delivery service, and sophisticated tool for filing and distributing patent documents.
USPTO PatFT – Full text patents since 1976. Pretty basic search engine once you get the hang of the searching syntax.
USPTO AppFT – Full text applications published, since March 2001.
Westlaw – Basic patent search.
WIPO PATENTSCOPE – Free search service offered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is made up of two databases, each with its own search interface: the International Applications search, and the National Collections search. As of November 2010, PATENTSCOPE’s searchable national patent collections include the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Argentina (AR), Brazil (BR), Cuba (CU), Israel (IL), Mexico (MX), Morocco (MC), Republic of Korea (KR), Singapore (SG), South Africa (ZA), Spain (ES) and Vietnam (VN). The International Applications search service offers full text searching of its collection of Patent Cooperation treaty (WO/PCT) applications, and supports searching in both Latin and non-Latin text languages. The service currently supports full-text data search in the following languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.
World Intellectual Property Search (WIPS) Global – Korean Patent Index (KPI) coverage is current and updated weekly, but with the exception of Korea, the system’s coverage is lacking compared to other search engines. The user interface lags behind other commercial search engines.
Xyggy Patent – Pretty cool item-based search engine. Didn’t work on Firefox, but IE, Opera, and Chrome all worked. The database does not seem to be as comprehensive, but it was unclear which index this site uses.
Foreign Country Websites
In addition, here are some individual foreign countries’ sites. I have not provided a list to each link, but they are out there. Here is a link: http://www.patentsonline.com.au/patent/pwhere.html.
Canadian Patent Databases – (1924 – present, free searching and display) The CIPO Canadian Patent Database contains all Canadian patents (both applications and granted patents) since 1924. For patent documents which are either laid-open applications (an application that has been made available for public viewing but has not yet been granted) or are patents granted since August 15, 1978, the database contains bibliographic data, textual data (titles, abstracts and claims) and image data. For patents granted prior to August 15, 1978, the database contains bibliographic data, the text of titles only (no text of abstracts and claims) and image data.
Chinese patent database (1985 – present, in Chinese, free searching and abstract display) The Chinese patent database is provided by SIPO — State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China. The database contains abstracts of all the Chinese patents, including patent applications and granted patents since 1985 and the images since 1996. There are 11 fields can be searched in: IPC (International Patent Classification), Title, Application number, Application date, Patent number, Inventor, Abstract, etc. The IPC in Chinese is available from this site.
Italian patent database (recent 1 year only, free searching and brief display) – The Italian patent database is provided by FILDATA , an Italian patent information company offers documentation services at the Italian Patent and Trademark office. The database contains recent one year of Italian patent applications. Searching by Italian patent applications or title keywords in Italian. The search results only the title, application number, application date and applicant will be displayed.
Japanese Patent Office (JPO) Japan, PAJ – Patent Abstracts of Japan (1993 – present, free searching and display) The PAJ – Patent Abstracts of Japan which is part of Industrial Property Digital Library. The PAJ is a searchable database of Japanese patent applications abstracts and legal status, published by the JPO. The date range covers from 1993.1.1 (publication date) and it takes about 3 months from the publication of the applications to the database. The database can be searched by Keywords, Applicant, Title of invention, Date of publication of application, IPC (International Patent Classification), Application number, Publication number, Patent number, and so on. Available data include front page and drawings of the patents.
The PAJ database of PATON contains the textual information from the CD-ROM-Series “Patent Abstracts of Japan (PAJ)”, which is published monthly by the JPO. It contains bibliographic data and the English translation of the edited version of Japanese patent applications without foreign priority.
New Zealand patents (free searching & title display) – The New Zealand patents database is provided by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ), a business unit in the Ministry of Commerce. Information contained in the database accessible through this site has been taken from files held at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand. The official trade marks, patents and designs registers are available from IPONZ..
The area of patent mining is quickly evolving, much like other areas in the information age. It looks like the future for these services looks good as innovation continues to create better products with better analytical tools.
Special thanks to http://www.intellogist.com/wiki/Main_Page, http://piug.org/vendors.php, and http://www.mit.gov.in/content/patents-database-country.