What is Google patent search?
Google Patent Search is an extremely powerful tool for prior art search. Google patent search is a free tool that includes millions of published patents and patent applications. In fact, you can use it for several purposes:
– Retrieve a patent publication whose publication number you know.
– Prior art Search for patent publications with a specific criteria (patent number, keywords, technology domain, etc.)
– Fetching reports that include multiple patents.
There are many other uses (e.g., patent product analysis, checking patent infringement) that Google Patent Search can serve. However, let’s limit the scope of this article to searching patents publications/prior art documents. You may read more about Google patent advanced search. It’s quite beneficial to leverage Google Patents Search by understanding how it works. This article is aimed at precisely that by explaining various features available in Google Patents and how can you use them to find patent publications.
Google patent search by Patent number:
If you know the patent publication number of a patent, you can enter it in the search field and find the patent publication. If you are looking for patent publications with specific keywords/concepts, you can read through this article to understand the basics.
On the home-page of Google Patents, you will see a blank search field with a ‘bulb’ icon and a ‘hat’ icon to the right-hand side of the search field. If you want to see both patent publications and Google scholar documents, select both the ‘bulb’ and ‘hat’ icons as shown on the right-hand side of the search fields. If you want to see only patents, select the ‘bulb’ icon and not the ‘hat’ icon (vice versa, if you want to see Google scholar results).
Google patent search by keywords:
Proceed now by entering the relevant keywords or concepts in the search field. Play around with synonyms of each keyword. While doing so, remember that you can use operators such as AND, OR, NOT, (), **~* etc. to refine your search. Let us take a look at some examples:
String 1– smart AND charger AND wireless AND (phone OR mobile),
The results will include all documents that include the words – smart, charger, wireless along with either one or both of the words ‘phone’ or ‘ mobile’ (which can be synonyms in this case). You can extend this string to include additional concepts/keywords or synonyms.
If your query were – ‘smart charger wireless phone mobile’, the search tool would automatically assume ‘and’ operator between all these keywords. If you want to use ‘OR’ between some keywords, you have to explicitly indicate that by typing this operator.
Let’s look at another example:
String 2 – smart **~* charger
The operator we used in this string is a proximity operator and would find documents that include the words – ‘smart’ and ‘charger’ in the vicinity of each other. I have found this operator effective in Google Patents as opposed to smart AROUND(3) charger, which we can normally use for Google searches.
You can expect the proximity operator to find the above-mentioned keywords located within a range of 4-5 words from each other. Although paid search tools are great at this proximity operator, but Google Patents does a decent job too.
Let’s consider another example:
String 3 – mobile AND device NOT charger
In the above string, you will find the documents that include the words ‘mobile’ and ‘device’ but exclude the word ‘charger’.
As a final note, in your search string try to experiment with various combinations of these operators and keywords. If you are not getting the results, try to use synonyms of each word. My personal suggestion would be not to use too many synonyms in a single string. For example, avoid using 5-6 OR combinations at once. This may prioritize non-relevant prior arts too. Change synonyms gradually depending on the results you get!
Another aspect you should remember, there is no single best strategy in patent searching. Try multiple strategies and tools.
Google patent search by patent classes:
Classes refers to classification of patent publications by their technology domains into respective classes and sub-classes. You can find the CPC classes here – https://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/cpc/html/cpc.html
Class-search is useful if you are either studying a specific technology domain. It can even be useful if the technology domain is too vast to return relevant results. It also helps if the domain is so niche. For instance, even without entering the keywords, you can simply find most of the relevant patents using just the class identifier. For example, H04W84/20 is a sub-class of class H on the above link.
Once you have the class/sub-class you need, enter it in the search field to find relevant results of the technology domain.
Another way you can select a class is to find some relevant patents in the domain you are searching and use their CPC class as your key string.
You can use class search either as a separate string (with one or more classes) or in combination with the keyword search.
A sample string you can use is:
String 4 – H02J7/0044 AND electrical AND charger
I would recommend that even before typing your search string, think from the perspective of patent drafting. Think about how a particular concept could be written. There are multiple ways in which a concept can be articulated and sentences can be formed in a patent application. If you can spend some time thinking on such ways, forming strings would just mean typing out these alternative ways.
Do comment your thoughts below!
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