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7 tips to unlock full potential of Google Patent Search

Any Tom, Dick or Harry (pardon the cliché) can conduct patent searches using Google Patents Search, Thomson Innovation or Orbit. It takes a power user who is skilled in the art of searching on these databases who would come up with relevant results 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 good news, we also have created a long definitive guide for you that teaches how to use Google Patents Search. You can go through the guide here: Google Patents Search.

We know that you might be running out of time and may like to go through the guide later. With that in mind, we also converted the guide into a PDF form. You can read it at anytime post downloading which could be done by filling the form below:


Why Google Patents Search?

One, the tool lets you conduct free patent searches and two, with the pace Google is improving its patent databases – currently 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 Patents search tips that includes its additional functionalities/operators. In every tip, I’ve used a relevant example to help you incorporate it into your next search.

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 describes 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 things clear.

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 Patents treats a single keyword that consists of multiple words as multiple keywords by breaking it. 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 can put your keyword in quotations, “typing cadence” for example.

This will return the search results having the exact phrase. The screenshots below will help 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. As simple as that. 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.

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 automatically based on the keyword you entered. You can also get the list of CPC classifications 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 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 a few syntax examples in the 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

The 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:

To be a good patent searcher, one has to be good at connecting dots, going unconventional, and using lateral thinking every now and then.

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.

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

$x

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 Patents par to premium databases such as Orbit and Thomson. Even better than them, as it covers non-English publications and is free to use.

Conclusion

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 your searches become more efficient.

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

Before we say sayonara to each other, I have another recommendation to make. My colleagues have compiled a long guide on how to use Google Scholar for patent and legal research. I feel it could be highly relevant to you as well. Do have a look. Here you go: Google Scholar Guide 

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Showing 16 comments
  • Halim Demetry Halim
    Reply

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

  • Jessica
    Reply

    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
      Reply

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

      • GreyB
        Reply

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

      • Vara
        Reply

        I know this is late, but now google.com/patents redirects to the new patents.google.com. However, I miss the old semantic search.

  • Robin Miles
    Reply

    Valuable information. Much appreciated.

  • Ankush
    Reply

    Really helpful. Danke schon

    • GreyB
      Reply

      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
    Reply

    Helpful information. Thanks

  • Mark Runyan
    Reply

    Regarding tip 7. From the Google Patents Search Terms help, it states the symbol ? is for zero or one character. Symbols * and $ appear to be same: zero or more characters.

  • Jeff Padgett
    Reply

    I am not even in the right tech mind mode to pretend to know what most of the material/links explained above pertain to me…

    the pdf file would have been nice to have, but can not be sent to a Gmail.com account…

    this will be my third invention in 10 years, with all my due diligence done with Google patent search services…

  • vishal
    Reply

    thanks for guidance

  • Zhenlan Hu
    Reply

    Thank you for posting! This is very helpful.

  • Jessica
    Reply

    @GreyB, do you know if search inquiries are saved when searching on google patents as they are in the regular google search engine?

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