I sometimes take for granted what life would be like without Google. The ability to instantaneously get almost any information for free is simply amazing. A crucial component of practicing patent law in any area involves gathering the right information. What are the related patents? What language is used in similar patents? Does the invention stand apart from the published applications? Recently, I have been on a quest to find the best services that promote Google’s mantra: publicly available, fast, useful and comprehensive. I found that there’s no dominant, one-size-fits-all service; a lot depends on what you want to search for. Here, I compare 12 publicly available services that tailor to the English language. After my analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, I compare the results of actual test queries to come up with a “best of” list of three services. Ironically, my “best of” list does not include Google. Skip to the Best Of here.

Compared sites

Searching for patent information is tricky for a number of reasons. First, different search engines provide different search capabilities. Some allow you to search for terms that are in close proximity. Some allow for complex combined, boolean search logic (and, or, not). Some allow for wildcards so that you can generate a very expansive result list. In addition to all these search factors, there are differing options of searching through different fields. Some allow you to search through only certain fields at a time (title, abstract, specification, etc), while others allow you to combine the fields. This is why it’s difficult to come up with a list of “best of” list because they are all so different. Click on the links below to be redirected to the corresponding analysis below.

Boliven

Boliven has an extensive database of 60 million patents and patent-applications. It includes these databases: US, EPO, PCT, JPO, KIPO, INPADOC.

I like the interface, as shown above. By default you can search through the entire fields, but if you want to drill down more specifically, you can use the Advanced Search. The big drawback to Boliven is that by trying to make money through subscription service, 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 code you can enter for 30 days of Boliven bliss is TrentOstler3. Try it out.

Boliven has limited, but good analytical tools for registered users that do not pay the subscription fee. Also, the search syntax allows for proximity, boolean, wildcard, grouping, and even fuzzy searching. Here is a diagram of the advanced searching syntax:

Canadian Patent Database

This service provides over 2 million patent documents from Canada since 1924. Full document images including cover and abstract are available from 1975 to the present.

The syntax is simple and straightforward.

 

Esp@cenet

Esp@cenet also has an extensive database of 70 million patent documents. The service offers full text search for EPO and PCT patents and applications. In addition, it includes the English abstracts of INPADOC.  You can select and query individual countries in the country’s native language too.

I found the interface straightforward enough. The syntax did not allow for wildcard or complex searching, however.

FreePatentsOnline

FreePatentsOnline is great. The database includes US (applications and patents), EPO, Abstracts of Japan, and PCT. Notably, you have the option the ability to download original patent documents. In addition, FreePatentsOnline recently added non-patent literature so that you can now search the contents of several thousand journals concurrently with your patent search. Very nice.

The syntax for search queries is intuitive. They use the forward slash syntax that the PTO uses, which takes some getting used to. But the options for advanced searching, as provided below, give you the ability to do some intense searching.

Google Patents

The database is somewhat limited to only US patents and applications, a little over 7 million of them. Also, a search query does not show how many results were generated. You just get the 1-10 that appear on the initial page, then it’s a matter of clicking “0″ after “o” to see how many more results there are. When dealing with a broad search term, this can be frustrating.

But what Google Patents lacks in coverage and results, it makes up for in speed and familiarity. Almost everyone knows how to use Google. It’s fast and gives you relevant results first. I use it to quickly look up filing dates. I also enjoy the “search within this document” feature.  Sometimes you need the text of an original claim in a patent or patent application. But PAIR only provides the PDF version. Google allows you to convert any words on the patent to text.

The advanced search options allow for more functional searching, but I couldn’t find proximity, wildcard, or advanced boolean searching capabilities. I understand why regular Google doesn’t use such searching styles, as there may be more advanced ways of providing relevant results, but I think this is a weakness for Google Patents to not include it.

KIPRIS

KIPRIS includes 4.5 million patent documents. In addition to patents, KIPRIS houses IPR applications, legal status information and trial information. Plus since 1996, KIPRIS has been run on behalf of KIPO.

The interface is simple and intuitive. The advanced searching also provides a lot of options. Here is the syntax:

Patent Lens

Patent Lens is another great service. Boasting 10,870,431 patent documents, Patent Lens covers US, EPO, PCT and Australia jurisdictions. I like the ability to analyze particular results to see what the patent family is. For instance, if I’m looking at a US application, I can see where else in the world it was filed. Also of interest to me is the Patent Lens Sequence Project, which allows you to search through 80 million DNA and protein sequences disclosed in patents.

The advanced searching is also robust, with boolean logic and proximity searching capabilities.

Patent Surf

An interesting service, Patent Surf primarily focuses its search engine on natural language, rather than use boolean syntax. You can enter a word, phrase, paragraph, or even page and the search engine will generate the most relevant results using relationships that are stored in their database.

The syntax is simple, use natural language! If you want to emphasize a particular word, you can do so with an asterisk–even multiple times.

PatSnap

Great service! This neat and organized interface reminds me of Google. Not only is the interface sleek, it provides additional features that allow for analytics. You can organize your results by assignee, inventor, filing years, patent family. You can also easily export your results, downloading multiple patents. You can also subscribe to receive RSS feeds for particular queries. The database is extensive, including US, EPO, and PCT patents. It is even more extensive, adding Norway, China, Korea, and Japan, if you wish to subscribe to the monthly subscription.

The searching syntax is user-friendly when using the field search, as you can input queries for particular patent sections. The “command line” is a little different, but looks powerful.

 

Sumo Brain

SumoBrain is a useful tool for searching major patent collections. The database includes US (applications and patents), EPO documents, PCT, and JP abstracts. It compares well with other free patent search services in terms of managing queries and saving records.

 

The search syntax is straightforward, using the slash syntax for particular section searching. The weighting operators are worth checking out as a different way to hone searches. The search syntax they provide is the same as FreePatentsOnline’s document.

 

USPTO

The PTO provides two services, PatFT which searches the issued patents and AppFT, which searches the published applications. PatFt provides full text patents since 1976. AppFT provides the full-text applications published since March 2001.

The USPTO’s website is still kind of 1990s in its design. It’s not fancy, doesn’t have analytical options, just provides the results in bare form.

Both services operate using a basic search engine. You have to get the hang of using the syntax.

WIPO PatentScope

Great service. PatentScope is made of two databases, each with its own search interface–the International Applications search, and the National Collections search. The National Collections includes additional breadth in that it includes the international document (PCT) plus individual countries. The full-text searching capabilities include PCT, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Brazil (BR), Cuba (CU), Europe (EP), Israel (IL), Mexico (MX), Morocco (MC), Singapore (SG), South Africa (ZA), Spain (ES) and Vietnam (VN). Less than full text for many other countries Argentina (AR), Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Uruguay, Vietnam. This adds up to a total of 7,752,536 patent documents, as noted on their website.

The syntax is straightforward and allows for powerful querying. Below are some syntax examples.

My “Best Of” list

I performed three queries and the results are shown below. To the right of the public patent search services are some proprietary comparisons.

Three services really caught my eye in terms of the interface and the results, effectively making my best of list. They are:

  • FreePatentsOnline
  • PatentLens
  • PatSnap

Conclusion

As noted in the above graphs, free search services are very good, but I believe can get even better. I’m going to make a prediction–this area of patent law will experience significant growth and change in information mining. Gone will be the days of paid-for database services. The Google model will become the norm. In sum, the more advanced our society becomes, the more information we will get. Our task is to optimize the tools for gathering such data because there is a demand out there that frankly demands it.

Today I made it up to Concord NH for the IP Cafe, sponsored by the Patent Law Forum and IIPO student organizations. I hadn’t been back at UNH School of Law since December so memories flooded back to me as I walked the halls and sat in classrooms. I also noted the new addition to the school, which will soon be known as the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property.

It was really good to start off my Saturday in Concord NH at an IP-dedicated symposium with like-minded individuals.

Mary Wong started things off by explaining what the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property is or will be. The gist of the center will be to maintain global IP prominence.

Mark Solomon and Deirdre Sanders, from Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds gave the first talk entitled, Top 10 Issues in Patent Law. Their remarks were basic, for the most part, I think because they were addressing a very diverse audience and they didn’t want to overwhelm anyone! But there were some interesting topics that were raised. Here are the issues they addressed, including my thoughts.
1. What forms of IP can build assets?
Copyrights
Trademarks
Trade Secrets
Patents
… and more

Three simple questions that a practitioner can ask an inventor to find out what the invention is all about.
What is the problem you’re solving?
How are others solving it?
How are you solving it?

The 3.5 year first installment is due after the 3.5 years for cases that are before the examiner for longer than 3.5 years.

2. How do you document your idea?
A. Notebooks. This section of the talk was interesting because the company I am currently working for is really big into notebooks. Dierdre used her litigation experience to discuss how notebooks can be more credible if they are initialed by someone else. But an interesting question raised was if this really adds to the credibility of the notebook because this witness, who is supposedly removed somewhat from the inventor, may not really understand and appreciate all the notes the researcher is including in his notebook. This is especially the case if there are lots of lab notes and lots of notebooks.
B. Internal invention disclosure form – One question that you may have with regards to these disclosure forms is, “How far upstream do they encourage invention disclosure forms be filled out?” The answer is at conception.

3. How do you determine ownership?
This topic was interesting to me. Some questions the speaker posed was, Who owns patent rights at the time of bankruptcy? What about when the company goes through a merger or acquisition and the inventor says that he didn’t assign the patent to the company? These questions made me think of the upcoming Stanford v. Roche case.
Another question talked about in the assignment portion of this bullet was, What is the value of recording the assignment at the PTO? An assignment doesn’t have to be recorded at the PTO to be a legitimate assignment. But there are benefits. The recordation tells bona fide purchasers that they should be on notice that you have the rights to it.

4. How do you know when to file?
The United States has a one-year period to file your patent. Australia and Canada also have 1 year. Certain European countries have an absolute bar of novelty, meaning that you have to file it before it becomes public. Certain Asian countries are 6 months.
“Disclosure” may be different from one country to another so even if a form of publication has issued, this may not automatically bar you from filing a patent in another country, depending on how they interpret disclosure.

5. How do you assess where to file?
This involves analysis of multiple factors including:
Markets
Manufacturing
License agreements that may require certain filings
Value
Potential investors
Potential licensees

6. How do you claim the invention?
Sometimes it is best to split up a patent into two to license the technologies to two separate entities: methods on one patent, compositions on the other. But these are business decisions as well, as they may add on additional maintenance fees.

7. How do you describe the invention?
US requirements include enablement, written description, and best mode. Other countries may be different.
Sometimes your parent application can obviate a continuation-in-part. If the parent mentions, but does not enable, blood, for instance, then the continuation in part will be obvious in light of the parent application, but it would not be enabled so you’re “screwed both ways.”

8. How do you navigate the process?
Remarks made on the record can estopp you. You can live with your description for the rest of your patent. If you make assertions to the foreign office too. But it was pointed out that recently the CAFC said that prosecution in other countries is not relevant for estoppel purposes in this country. I don’t know which case the audience member was referring to, but litigators will argue that this should be narrowly construed. Even if you can mention it at all will cause serious problems.
The way that Dierdre described Markman hearings really got me excited to see one in action. I believe Markman hearings are open to the public to sit in on, but I was not sure. I’ll have to look into this because I got excited about seeing one.
Then they talked about duty to disclose. For instance, who is under the duty? CFR 1.56. The lesson learned from McKesson is that you have to cite to the examiner the same case that they have allowed previous. You can’t assume that they know anything. But you always are assumed to know about previous references being the reasonable practitioner.
Try to disclose everything

9. How do you keep your options open?
You can file one patent that is very big or multiple patents with multiple maintenance fees

10. How do you use an issued patent?

Overall, it was a very interesting event. Tom Field was in the back asking questions and laughing as I remember him best. There was also this pretty sharp audience member who had a Russian accent and who every once in a while corrected the speaker.

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..

Summary
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.

 

In an article explaining the interplay between patents and trade secrets, John L. Dupre and James M. Smith from Hamilton Brook Smith & Reynolds break down the two systems.The article called When to Choose Trade Secret Protection over a Patent published a few weeks ago in I Am Magazine.

Three take-homes that an inventor should consider when determining which approach is best for him.

1) How easy would it be to reverse-engineer. Mechanical inventions, for instance, can be disassembled and put back together. If easy reverse-engineering, patent protection is a great avenue providing 20 years of protection as the exact implementation is publicly available. If hard to reverse-engineer, a trade secret could be a better approach as it has less application costs, could protect you longer than a patent, and is enforceable outside the U.S.

2) The difficulty in determining whether your invention is being infringed. If it would be difficult to reverse engineer a competitor’s version of your invention to see that they infringe, patent protection might not be the best option. FTA: “If the patent holder cannot reverse engineer an infringing product to determine whether the rights in the patent have actually been used, the patent may be difficult to enforce.”

A good, basic read for someone who has a basic understanding of intellectual property.

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