7 tips to unlock full potential of Google Patent Search

 In Patent Invalidation

Any Tom, Dick or Harry (pardon the cliché) can conduct patent searches using Google Patents Search, Thomson Innovation or Orbit. It’s the one who is a power user and is skilled in the art of searching on these databases who comes up with relevant results really faster.

You not only require a weapon in your arsenal, you need the skills to wield the weapons as well. Well, Google just provided us with upgraded weapons and through this article, I’ll be sharing seven of its best features.

Another Must Read: A 2800+ word long Definitive Guide on Google Patents Search

Why Google Patents Search?

One, the tool let you conduct free patent searches and two, with the pace Google is improving its patent databases – the only area where it lacks – soon you will be executing a lot of patent searches without using any commercial database. Its responsiveness (faster speed of execution) along with the sleek UI is something that will take you away from commercial databases.

Below I’ve compiled a list of seven Google Patent search tips that includes its additional functionalities/operators. In every tip, I’ve used a relevant example to help you incorporate it in your next search.

Featured Resource: Interested to know Google Patents inside out? This one guide has everything you need from Advanced searching to syntax and Boolean operators.

1.   How to effectively use AND/OR operator to find accurate results in Google Patent Search

We all know that different patents can use different keywords to describe a similar concept. One patent, for example, can use “bendable” to describe the same concept which another is describing using “foldable”.

You have to take these into account to make sure you don’t miss any important keywords. Hence, you manually use AND and OR or a combination of them in commercial patent databases while in the Google Patent Search, these are automatically added between different term boxes and synonym boxes.

The screenshot below will make the things clearer:

Google Patents automatically adds AND and OR operators between search fields and keywords

As you can see, the keywords between a single search field are separated by OR operator and the keywords between different search fields are separated by AND operator automatically. To make this process even faster, Google allows you to press Tab to add a synonym and press enter to jump to the next field (adding an AND operator).

2.   How to increase the relevancy of search results?

Google Patent Search treats a single keyword that consists of multiple words as multiple keywords by breaking that. The keyword ‘Typing Cadence’, for example, will be broken into Typing and Cadence and you will find results accordingly. This returns a lot of junk results that waste your time.

To increase the relevancy of search results, you have to put your keyword in quotations, “typing cadence” for example.

This will return the search results having the exact phrase. The screenshots below will help you spot the difference –

A simple patent search performed without using quotes brings slightly irrelevant results

Performing the same search with quotes brings quite relevant results

3.   How to remove specific keywords from your search results?

Let’s assume that you want to search for the keyword “needle” but don’t want patents that describe its use in injections, syringes, or biopsy. Searching for “needle” will bring every patent that has the word “needle” in them.

Here adding a minus “-” symbol can do the job for you. That simple it is. Have a look:

Searching for keyword "Needle" without using negative (-) operator

Using negative (-) operator exclude irrelevant results and narrows down the search to only relevant results

It’s quite apparent how using a negative (-) symbol narrow downs the results eliminating any unnecessary entries.

You will find this one interesting, too: How We Used Pattern Recognition to Find an Unsearchable Prior Art?

4.   Searching through Cooperative Patent Classifications (CPCs)

As discussed earlier, different patents can use different keywords to describe the same concept; hence, searching solely on keywords will have high chances of missing relevant results. This is where searching based on CPC comes handy.

If you’re searching for Ink Pens, for example, you could also search B43K1/00 to retrieve documents that mention nibs/writing points. Also, you will find Google Patent Search suggesting a CPC automagically based on the keyword you entered. Otherwise, you can get the list of CPC classification here.

Google Patents suggesting CPC classification based on your keywords

5. How to use proximity operators in Google Patent Search?

Google patent search also offers the option to search keywords that are not directly next to each other but falls within a close proximity. For example, if you are searching for power control methods in CDMA mobiles, finding the exact order of keywords may not be possible. Also, a random search will lead to a lot of inaccurate results.

In this case, you can use proximity operators like NEAR and AJD (adjacent). Both of these operators can help you in narrowing down your search results. Here’s a use case scenario of the same:

Using proximity operators here will, for sure, bring accurate results. One point worth noting is that as you scroll down, the accuracy will keep on decreasing.

NEAR operator

The syntax for using NEAR operator can be – NEARx, NEAR/x, or /xw. Here, x is the maximum number of words that can separate 2 keywords. I’ve given few syntax examples in below paragraphs.

You can also use WITH and SAME operators. These operators will return the results where keywords are 20 and 200 words away, in any order, respectively.

AJD (adjacent) operator

NEAR operator brings results that are not in any specific order, just within a specific distance. If you want results that follow the direction as well as distance, you can use AJD, AJDx, ADJ/x, or +xw.

For example: (power NEAR/5 control) will bring patents in which the keyword ‘power’ is within a range of 5 words of the keyword ‘control’, in any direction while (power ADJ/5 control) will bring results that have the word “control” after “power” in them and not the other way around.

You can find another example on Google Patent Search Help Page where a syntax, (safety ADJ/5 belt) NEAR/10 (baby OR child) SAME vehicle, is used. Below is a screenshot of this search string in action:

Before we move to the next tip, let me ask you a question- Do you think you are a smart patent researcher? Yes? Great, can you solve this puzzle here: A Puzzle for Smart Patent Searchers

6.   How to search in Title, Claims, and Abstract fields in Google Patent Search?

This is one of the best features of Advance Google Patent Search. You can also narrow down your search by only including specific fields within your search scope.

Google patent search allows users to keep their search restricted to only major fields like Title, Abstract, and Claims. The syntax for the searches will be TL=(keyword), CL=() for a claim, and AB=() for an abstract.

This is a bit off-topic but what do you think about patent trolls? We think they are not that bad as publicized by the media and add to the economy. How, you ask? Find out here: Why Patent Trolls Are Good

7.   How to use wildcards in search strings on Google Patent?

This is another feature that helps improve the accuracy or scope of your search by including wildcards in your search strings.

Below are the supported wildcards along with their syntax:


Zero or one character


Zero or more characters


Zero to x characters


Exactly one character

You can even use multiple wildcards in a single keyword for example: $propylbenz$3.

These features make Google Patent par to premium databases such as Orbit and Thomson. And even better than them as it covers non-English publications and is free to use.


At the end of the day, a smart patent searcher is one who finds the most relevant result in the stipulated time. Everyone uses the same set of tools but not everyone finds the right result or similar results. Do you know why? Because tools don’t determine your success, it is the strategies that do. Hope the tips in this article help you make smart strategies.

Authored By: Gaurav Sahni, Senior Research Analyst, Search Team

Next Step:  Find out the list of 7 tools that could help crafting patent monetization strategy here: Which Automation Tool Help Making a Patent Monetization Strategy?

Showing 10 comments
  • Halim Demetry Halim

    Really awesome , always Google develop himself , develop people and the world around trying to improve the whole world.

  • Jessica

    My google.com/patents page does not look like yours with the search fields on the left and the results on the right. Is there a formatting option I’m missing under preferences?

    • Jessica

      Never mind. You have to type in patents.google.com for it to look like yours! Problem solved.

      • GreyB

        Great! Do let me know by commenting here if you need any help with Google Patents. Happy to help always!

  • Robin Miles

    Valuable information. Much appreciated.

  • Ankush

    Really helpful. Danke schon

    • GreyB

      Bitte schön, Ankush!

  • Reply

    This is very relevant and useful information. I used it to search for a patent in the 1960’s and it worked. Now with the patent number it is much easier to go forward. Thanks again for posting.

  • Shulamit Hirsch

    Helpful information. Thanks

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