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’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 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 download it and read anytime by filling the form below:
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 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 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:
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 –
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:
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 automagically based on the keyword you entered. Otherwise, you can get the list of CPC classification here.
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.
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:
To be a good patent searcher, one has to be good at connecting dots, going unconventional, and using lateral thinking every now and then. Along the same line, I have an exercise for you. Before we move to the next tip, how about you try this out: Can you solve this 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. You can read our take here: Why Patent Trolls Are Good. Do let us know what do you think.
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
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