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Google Patent Search – A Definitive Guide for Patent Searching
Google Patent Search – A Definitive Guide for Patent Searching
Have you ever wondered if you can conduct various types of patent searches on your own for free? In fact, you can save lots of money that you otherwise will spend on either consulting a patent attorney or conducting a prior art search for your invention from a private patent firm.
Generally, on average an inventor or startup/SME pays in between from 120$ to 3000$ to check whether his idea or invention can be patentable.
However, there are some of the best open source free patent databases available including Google Patents, Free Patent Online, The Lens, Unified Patents and etc that can save your hard-earned money. But surprisingly quite a few of us use these databases.
Do you know why? Well, because there is no such “How to use” guide or manual publicly available that can elaborately explain and instructs inventors or researchers about how to find on their own whether their idea is patentable or not by using above mentioned free databases.
To address this issue, we at TT Consultants bring a complete and comprehensive guide about how to use Google Patents to find prior arts (or to find whether the idea is already patented by someone else).
No doubt the quality of service provided by patent professionals is far superior than these free databases. But it will be a good practice to conduct a prior art search or learn to find relevant patents on your own. If relevant prior art or patent is not identified, then consulting with the patent professional is the best option.
Table of Contents
This guide is very helpful for inventers, researchers and startups/SME. Even if you are a patent professional, you will find some amazing tips and tricks in the guide that enhance your skills to the next level. Stay tuned to learn more.
But patent protection is not the only aspect that guarantees the survival of a company. It is also crucial to keep regular track of the Intellectual Property status of competitors. A robust IP strategy focuses on how to monitor competitor’s activities in the IP domain.
Below we discuss how patent monitoring can be a potent tool in a company’s quest to observe the competition.
So, What is Google Patents?
Like Google search engine that we use in our day-to-day life, Google has created another dedicated search engine specifically for patents and non-patent literatures.
It includes more than 120 million patent publications from over 100+ patent offices around the world in which full text documents from 22 patent offices are currently supported.
And guess what? To make prior art searching easier, Google also added millions of research papers, technical papers, books, and publication work listed in Google Scholar, Google Books, and Prior Art Archive to its patent database. Impressive right? It is from Google Almighty.
4 Reasons Why Professionals Use It?
Unlike the other paid databases like Questel Orbit and Clarivate Derwent, the Google Patents is completely free. You don’t have to subscribe it. The only thing you have do is to go to your browser and simply type “Google Patents” or enter the URL "https://patents.google.com/". That’s it you are ready to go.
The user interface of Google Patents is just awesome. In fact, most of the time patent professionals prefer Google Patents when it comes to analyze or read a patent. That’s because thanks to its interface, user can simultaneously read patent text while looking at patent images (that opened in side window of the screen).
The third reason is due to its efficient and fast searching algorithm. Like its father Google search engine, Google Patents also share similar kinds of context-based searching features.
Rather than restricting the searching only to the keywords mentioned by the user in search query, it also automatically picks closest synonyms of a word and produces results based on the keywords and their closest synonyms.
For example, if you search for let say “car sensor” then Google Patents give results or show patents that contain “car sensor”, “vehicle sensor”, “automobile sensor”, “car transducer” and likewise.
Whether its keyword-based search query, IPC/CPC class-based search query, assignee-inventor based search query, date restricted search query, or jurisdiction restricted search query, Google Patents supports all of them.
Also, you can not only search for particular type of patents like design or utility patents but you can also search patents according to their status (whether granted or not) as well as you can search patents according to their language in which they written (like English, German, Chinese and many more).
Okay, But How to Use it?
Now let’s come to the main point, how can we use Google Patents like a Pro.
In Google Patents, there are two search options. First one is quick search or let say simple search and second one is advanced search.
Lets first discuss quick search:
1. Quick Search Or Basic Search
Basically, quick search is used when you have a patent number, application number or publication number of a particular patent. Also, quick search can be use when your search query is simple (probably contains 4-7 words).
For example, let say we have a publication number US20210142526A1 and we want to search it on the Google Patents.
- So, first simple type “Google patents” or open this link “https://patents.google.com/“.
- You will be welcome by this type of interface as shown in the image below:
- Make sure the word “Patents” written below the Google logo as highlighted with pink rectangle in the above image. Don’t mistake Google Patents for general Google search engine.
- After that just put the publication number in the green highlighted search bar shown in the above image and press enter.
- Once the patent is opened, it will look like the image shown below.
- Similarly, when you want to find patents belonging to particular technology domain. Then, you have to just put some keywords in the search bar instead of publication number.
- For example, let suppose we want to find patents that belongs to “autonomous car having augmented reality”.
- For this, the whole process is same except instead of putting publication number in search bar you have to put these keywords as demonstrated in the below image.
- After running the query, you will get the results as demonstrated below.
2. Advanced Search
Before coming to this, we must first understand the operators or Boolean operators and how can we use them for efficient advanced searching in Google Patents.
In Google Patents, you can use number of operators to find relevant patents or prior arts. Here is the list of all the operators that can be used to form a good search query.
- Like any other searching database, Google Patents also supports Boolean operators that includes AND, OR, NOT operators.
- The OR operator returns results or patents that contain at least one of keywords defined by the user in the search query. It is possible that the other keywords of the search query might not be present in the results or patents.
Example: (Automobile OR Vehicle)
- On the other hand, the AND operator returns results or patents that contain all the keywords defined by the user in the search query. If a patent contains one keyword but the second keyword is not present in it. Then, Google Patents discard that result and will not be shown on the interface.
Example: (Automobile AND Lidar)
- The NOT operator is used to exclude the results that contain keywords or terms defined in the search query. However, we would not recommend you use this operator in your search. As it may eliminate good patents in which the NOTed keyword disclosed in the background of the patent. In the example, the patents containing automobile but not containing electric will be shown to the user. The patents containing keyword automobile along with the word electric will also be eliminated.
Example: (Automobile NOT electric)
- NEAR, NEAR/x or NEARx, ADJ or ADJx, WITH, SAME are the proximity operators of Google Patents that can be used for effective searching. NEAR operator is used to search results or patents that have user defined keywords approximate to each other in any order (means the first keyword can be present before or after the second keyword in the text). The NEAR operator checks proximity between the defined keywords up to 2-3 words. Means the defined keywords can be 2-3 words away from each other.
Example: (Automobile NEAR Lidar)
- Ok, then what about if I want to search for keywords that apart from each other more than 2-3 keywords? Well, the simple answer is you can use NEAR/x, NEARx or /xw for that kind of search. Here, the x means the defined keywords can be maximum of x words away from each other in any order. NEAR/x, NEARx or /xw all of them have same functionality but different syntax. You can use any of them depending on your choice.
Example: (Automobile NEAR3 Lidar)
- Likewise, the ADJ or adjacent operator works in a similar manner as that of NEAR operator except that the keywords must be present in the same order as defined in the search query by the user.
Example: (Smart ADJ Phone)
- Further, AJDx, ADJ/x, or +xw can be used in similar manner as we use NEAR/x, NEARx or /xw operators. But again, there are some exceptions. Here, x means the keywords can be maximum of x words away from each other and must be in the same order as of defined keywords of the search query.
Example: (Liquid ADJ3 Display)
- WITH operator is used to find keywords in the text that are maximum up to 20 words away from each other in any order.
Example: (Smartphone WITH Lidar)
- The SAME operator is used to search patents in which the keywords defined in search query are maximum up to 200 words away from each other in any order.
Example: (Drone SAME Solar)
- So, what about if I want to search for an exact phrase instead of words. Well, well, well……Google Almighty also has operator for this. It’s called exact search operator. What you must do is simply put quotations on both sides of the phrase and that’s it. Google will show you the results that contain only exact match phrases. It is very popular among the patent professionals because it gives better results without putting much effort. But keep in mind, whenever you use exact search or quotation operator on the phrase, you cannot use any other operator in the same phrase.
Example: (“autonomous car”)
- Wildcard and truncation operators are used on single word in query to include maximum possible words so that no relevant result or patent miss.
- You can use? operator in Google Patents to truncate zero or one character in the search query keyword.
- Similarly, * or $ operators can be used to truncate zero or more characters in the keyword.
- The # operator is used to truncate exactly one character in the search query keyword.
3. How to Conduct Advanced Searching
Now let’s come to the main point. So, how can we conduct advanced searching on Google Patents? For that, you can simply open advanced search Google Patents from the link “https://patents.google.com/advanced“ or else you can open it from quick or simple search interface.
The below image shows the Google Patents advanced search interface:
3.1 Keywords and Class-Based Searching
Keywords Based Search
To better understand keywords and class-based searching, let consider the previous example. Suppose you want to search patents on cars having augmented reality. So, what you need to do is to simply write a keyword that you think is relevant in the blue highlighted box as shown in the below image:
You can also add its synonyms by clicking on the “+ synonyms” highlighted with green box (as demonstrated below):
The Google Patents will OR all the synonyms with relevant keyword and run the query.
As you can see in the below image (highlighted with yellow box), Google Patents automatically generate your search query ((automobile) OR (car)):
But this query is limited to car or automobile only. We want patents that includes both car or automobile along with augmented reality. So, for that – we will use AND operator. Google Patents allow you to AND keywords by simply writing them (that you want to AND with the (automobile OR car)) in the orange highlighted box as shown in the below image:
You search query will now form as ((automobile) OR (car)) ((augmented reality) OR (AR)). This query will return patents that includes both automobile and augmented reality keywords and their synonyms.
However, sometimes even in our given example, the Google Patents produce more junk results than the relevant one. It happens because the search query that we form is quite broad.
We need to narrow down the query by ANDing the more concept with our current query or by using IPC/CPC classes along with keywords. There are also some other ways that we will discuss later to produce quality results.
First let focus on narrowing query by ANDing more concepts. Now, let suppose our invention or interest that was restricted by only two concepts (automobile and augmented reality) is now restricted by three concept that are (automobile and augmented reality and lidar sensor). In other words, we come to know that we want patents that must include automobile, augmented reality and lidar sensor. So, our approach will be as shown in the below image (highlighted with red box).
You will find that the results are now more relevant as compared to our previous search query.
Always keep in mind to use most important part of your invention or matter interest to form query.
Also, we will recommend you to use maximum up to two synonyms in one bucket. As in our current query, the red color text is one bucket that contain two synonyms. Similarly, green color text is another bucket that contain two synonyms and blue color text is the third bucket that contain only one keyword.
Search query: ((automobile) OR (car)) ((augmented reality) OR (AR)) (lidar sensor)
Likewise, you can restrict your query up to three buckets for good results.
Class Based Search
Searching results on Google Patents using the IPC/CPC classes is quite an effective method as it gives good results.
But some of us might be wondering Damn…what are these classes now? Don’t’ worry this is not a rocket science kind of thing. Basically, every patent is on some technology or on some domain. Some patents might be on two or more technologies.
Some might be on single technology. Its quite tough to search patent based on the keywords only. So, international patent entities came up with the idea to form classes based on the technology or domain and allocate each patent one or more classes based on their technology or domain. There are many types of classes but for this guide we will discuss IPC/CPC classes only.
IPC classes are international patent classification system and CPC is cooperative patent classification system. In the starting, IPC and CPC were a separate system but now both are merges.
You can extract relevant classes and their definition from the patents.
To find a relevant class, you can also search on Espacenet classification search using the link “https://worldwide.espacenet.com/patent/cpc-browser“.
Once the link open, you can type keywords in the classification search bar to find IPC/CPC classes belonging to particular technology as demonstrated in the below image (highlighted with green box).
After pressing enter, the classes will be shown along with their definitions. You can choose class that best match with your interest. For example, as shown in the below image highlighted with purple box, we are searching classes for augmented reality and can choose class G06T19/00 for Google Patent searching.
For extracting relevant class, you can use Google Patents as well. The method is quite simple. Just write the keyword of the technology in the Google Patents advanced search (for example, augmented reality in orange highlighted box of below image) and click on the “+ synonym”. Relevant class (highlighted with blue box in the below image) with respect to the keywords you just write will appear.
Now click the class number and boom all the relevant classes belonging to the keyword will appear along with the definition as illustrated in the below image (highlighted with green box).
Although, you can run query that contains only classes. But we recommend you to run classes along with the keywords to get better results. Here is an example. We are ANDing augmented reality-based class G02B2027/0147 (that extracted from the Google Patents) with the automobile keywords. Refers to the red highlighted box in the below image.
Search query: (G02B2027/0147) ((automobile) OR (car))
We recommend you to use keywords for one bucket, AND it with the classes of other different bucket. Means, if you are using automobile keywords then you must AND it with augmented reality classes or vice versa. Make sure to not AND automobile keywords with automobile classes in the same query. Your query will run and produce results, but it will be an inefficient query and there are chances you might miss some good results.
3.2 Proximity Operators and Title, Abstract, Claim Based Searching
Proximity Based Searching
Google Patents allow you to conduct search using number of proximity operators as disclosed above. It can be better understood with the help of an example. We can run a query with various proximity operators as shown below in the image.
Further, each bucket of synonyms in the query is highlighted with different colors. In addition, how we form these buckets with various operators in the Google Patent is also shown in the image highlighted with the respective colors (of each bucket) in the form of boxes.
Search query: ((“augmented reality”) OR (“AR”)) ((compound? OR particle?) NEAR5 (analy#er OR test*)) ((automatic* WITH (sens* OR devcie?)))
However, it is worth to mention that proximity operators change the relevancy score of the results or patents. They are not related with the number of hits produce or results retrieved.
The number of hits might increase even if your proximate operator is narrow and vice versa. Because as already mentioned, it changes the result relevancy, but the number of hits might not in accordance with query scope (broad or narrow).
The Google Patents algorithm and closest synonyms feature also play key role for this unexpected hit count in accordance with the query scope. So, we will recommend you to avoid proximity operators (except exact search operator or double quotation operator). Instead of this, you can search in the specific field of the patents like title, abstract, claim.
Title, Abstract and Claim Based Search
For searching in title, abstract and claim fields of patents, you can use syntax TI, AB and CL respectively. If you want to search a keyword in all the three fields (title, abstract and claim) then you only have to place “TI=” in front of that keyword. OR it with same keyword having “AB=” in front of it.
Similarly, the keyword further can be ORed with title and abstract by placing “CL=” in front of it. You can search in title only or abstract only and also claims can be searched individually. In addition, different combination of these field can be searched (title and abstract only or abstract and claim only).
Refer to the below example shown in the image highlighted with purple box for better understanding. In the search query, the keyword “augmented reality” is searched in title, abstract and claim of the patents.
Search query: ((TI=”Augmented reality”) OR (AB=”Augmented reality”) OR (CL=”Augmented reality”)) ((automobile) OR (car))
3.3 Assignee, Inventor and Date-Based Searching
Assignee and Inventor-Based Search
The Google Patents allow you to search through the meta data. Means you can also search based on the inventor or assignee. In addition, you can also perform AND operation between inventor and assignee as shown in the below image highlighted with blue box.
Search query (assignee based): ((automobile) OR (car)) assignee:ford assignee:BMW
Search query (assignee AND inventor based): ((automobile) OR (car)) inventor:(Todd Allen Brown) assignee:ford assignee:BMW
Date Based search
You can also restrict your search scope with the help of various dates (priority date, application or filling date, publication date). Sometimes, you have to search before or after a specific date mostly in invalidation and FTO cases. For that, Google Patents came with a date restriction feature.
For example, let suppose you wants to search patents before priority date: December 2, 2017. Then your search query will be something as shown in the below image highlighted with orange box.
Search query: ((automobile) OR (car)) ((“Augmented reality”) OR (“AR”)) (“lidar sensor”) before:priority:20171202
You can also change the type of date (priority, publication or filling) by clicking on the green highlighted box shown in the above image.
3.4 Patent Jurisdiction, Patent Status, Patent Type and Language-Based Searching
Patent Jurisdiction and Patent Status (Grant or Application) Based Search
By using this feature, you can search patents that belongs to particular jurisdiction like USA, Japan, Europe and many more. In addition, you can also search patents based on their status means whether they are granted or not. Below is the example shown in below image (highlighted with yellow box) that illustrate how to use these features.
Search query: ((automobile) OR (car)) ((“Augmented reality”) OR (“AR”)) (“lidar sensor”) country:US,EP status:GRANT
In the above example, we restricted our search to USA and Europe jurisdiction. Also, we further limit scope of our search to granted patents only. This feature is very helpful specially in FTO searching. You can choose any jurisdiction and status of patent by clicking on the red highlighted box as shown in the above image.
Patent Type (Utility or Design) and Patent Language-Based Search
Well, some inventions are on the utility or method, but some inventions are on design specifically. For that, you need to search only design patents. This feature makes it easy for you to search design patents.
Further, you may need to find patents that are published in specific language (like German, French, Korean and likewise). In that case, Google provide you an option to search in the specific language. Here is an example demonstrated in the below image (highlighted with green box).
Search query: ((smartphone) OR (mobile)) language:GERMAN,FRENCH,ENGLISH,CHINESE type:DESIGN
In above example, number of languages are selected in which the patent published. In addition, you can choose any language by clicking on the purple box in the above image. Moreover, this search is limited to design patents only. You can choose other option as well by clicking on the blue box in the image.
Let us just quickly summaries that we have learnt from this guide so far. First discuss Google Patents and mention some of the reasons why patent professionals also use it.
Next, we discussed how to use Google Patents for simple searching and advancing searching.
Then, we find out that there are some operators like Boolean, proximity, wildcards and truncations that Google Patents supports. We also discussed how to use them for advanced searching.
In addition, we came to know what IPC/CPC classes are and how to extract and use them for effective searching. We disclosed assignee, inventor and title, abstract, claim based searching. Some examples of date-based searching are also shown. In the last section, we covered how to use patent jurisdiction feature along with the patent status to limit our search scope in an efficient manner.
So, we can say Google Patents is a good database for searching. But it is still lacking in some areas. There is no option for highlighting text based on the search logic as it is in the paid database like Orbit. Although, Google Patents support highlighting of text to some extent. But it is not sufficient for fast analysis of the patents.
Google Patents support the export of patent data. But you cannot define customize which entity of the patent you want to export as it is in paid databases like Derwent and Orbit. The operation of proximity operators is not according to expectations.
Moreover, its patent data is not always correct. You must cross verify it from USPTO or other patent office databases. Lastly, you cannot run complex queries in it for searching.
Although, Google Patents has some flaws. But we cannot ignore that it’s a free database that provides features like paid databases. We believe in the coming future Google will overcome these problems and Google Patents will become an optimized, up to date and reliable patent database.
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