The best way to Analyze Patents during Prior art Search
100?, 200?, 400?, 600? – A new joinee recently asked me, what was the maximum number of patents I had analyzed within a day?
I chuckled and replied – It is not the number that matters, but the technique which helps me get to the relevant results in less time.
While conducting prior art searches, where there are hundreds, and at times, even thousands of results to sift through, one needs not just speed, but the right technique to get to the relevant result in a limited time.
Having worked on hundreds of searches in the past few years, I have realized that coupled with the right search strings, the best way to read through the patents is to read the description followed by the title.
You see, while most searchers read the title and claims of the patent, to understand the patent in question, the claim language could make it pretty difficult at times to clearly understand the invention. To be honest, I seldom look at claims while judging the relevance of a reference (except FTO).
Reading the description, however, really works since if there is any information in the claims, it is bound legally to be in the description as well. Also, the description is going to explain it in simpler words.
For instance, it is much easier to understand “The pen 20 shown in Fig. 5 comprises an ink chamber 23, a nib 22…” from a description, then “a marking device comprising a fluid compartment…” from a claim.
Other than that, I think reading the problem statement of the reference helps a lot in deciding the relevancy. It is usually available just above the “Summary of the Invention” section.
For example: If you are looking for a particular nib design in a fountain pen, a patent mentioning “The object of this invention is to provide an ergonomic design of a pen that overcomes the aforementioned limitations…” is likely to be irrelevant.
Along with that, an important trick is to find that part of the reference due to which this reference was captured in your search string. This can be done by clever use of word highlighting, tomograph, or the word highlighting bar in Grey Parrot (Our internal tool that makes searching a breeze).
For example: Below is a snapshot of a tomograph showing a portion of the patent text that satisfies that query “artificial neural network is in the same sentence with 3D imaging”.
CMO’s Note: Would you like to learn a bit more about GreyParrot, and how it can help make your searches more efficient? Click here.
As a seasoned professional, I bet you have unconsciously known this piece of info for quite a while, but sometimes it is good to refresh your knowledge every once in a while. With that thought, we are collating the list of the best search strategies, hacks, and tactics we have shared over the years in one single book. We are calling it the black book of patent strategy and if you’d like to get your hands on it, fill this short form below to get on the waitlist.