Expand your search scope with cross lingual search

Hello all,

I wanted to quickly check in from Baltimore where I’m attending the Patent Information Users Group annual conference (by the way, you can follow Intellogist on Twitter to see my live tweets from the conference!).  I saw a presentation about a new feature of WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE ® tool today that will absolutely blow your mind.  This is the best cross lingual search feature I have seen so far, and it’s available for free, which should really make you sit up and take notice!

Up until now some of you may have been familiar with the cross-lingual search on QPAT. However, the WIPO search tool has some unique features that differentiate it from the QPAT interface.   The PATENTSCOPE ® tool uses a number of cross-lingual dictionaries built in house by WIPO to generate keyword queries in other languages.  It does this with the aid of a technology discipline filter to help ensure that the meaning of the desired synonym is clear to the system – for example, so that it will not misinterpret a search on bats (the flying mammal) as a search on baseball bats.   It also generates a basic set of main IPC classes to be included in the search string; this is a clever way to ensure that the search results are related to the appropriate general technology area.

Rather than taking my word for how this feature can generate totally cool keyword search strings, try it for yourself!  First go to the National and PCT Collections Search form of the WIPO PATENTSCOPE ® interface, and choose “Cross Lingual Expansion” from the drop-down menu that appears when you hover your cursor over “search.”  Then input your search query in English, French, German, Spanish, or Japanese, choose the level of control you’d like to have over the query (I recommend choosing “Supervised” Expansion Mode just to see how this thing works on a detailed level), and choose your comfort level between “precision” and “recall.”

(Most searches are a trade-off between precision and recall – precision refers to the relevance level of the results one gets, while recall refers to the percentage of relevant results one is able to pick up with a search string. High precision searches will usually be lower on recall, because targeted search strings can miss some useful outliers.)

After you input your query, the system may ask you to confirm that it is truly in the language you selected. This is because with shorter queries the system may not have enough information to recognize the query language correctly and it needs a little help.

Next, the system will show you a list of general technology areas.  Choose the areas that are most closely related to your search topic – this will help the program select the most appropriate cross-lingual synonyms from its dictionaries.

In the next screen, you will be shown a list of possible synonyms to your search query.   Choose all that apply for each term, and choose “translate selected terms.”   Voila!  The system will have generated your search query in English using the synonyms you selected, and then will translate those synonyms (using its proprietary dictionaries in combination with a technology filter) into French, German, Spanish, and Japanese.  Furthermore, the system will have picked a list of general IPC main classes to add to the search string as a filter.   From this screen,  you can have further control over the use of stemming, the acceptable distance between words in a phrase, and the field of search (title, abstract, claims, etc.)

As you can imagine, the end result of this very involved process is an absolutely massive search query containing dozens of terms, and which can be executed in conjunction with complex computational tasks like stemming and proximity operators.  It remains to be seen whether the PATENTSCOPE ® system suffers any performance issues from this new tool, but right now, they say go for it!

I hope you all go right over there and try this search tool, because I think it will impress you.  At the very least, it’s a free way to start expanding your search queries to include some non-English collections (because don’t forget, these queries can be pasted anywhere – you don’t have to only run them in PATENTSCOPE ® ).  And one final note – if you can’t think of a query to test this out on, the demonstration performed today was on the simple query “sound isolation,” which illustrated the tool’s capabilities very well – as test demonstration queries usually do :).   Happy searching!

Technical Translations from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Intellogist team member Kristin Whitman.

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9 Responses

  1. [...] I think that this tool has a lot going for it.  First, there are the convenience and coverage factors:  the tool performs a “deep web” search of over 60 databases that are not necessarily indexed on Google.  Next, I think it’s valuable because it will help prior art searchers extend their searches into non-English collections, seamlessly providing machine translations of the hit list and individual results.  It’s not always easy for English-speaking searchers to stretch themselves and delve into foreign-language collections when so much of the world’s scientific literature is actually published in English – however, as we all know, the right reference (in any language) can be crucial to a prior art search. The good news is that introducing multilingual search capabilities seems to be a trend with search products recently, as we all remember from last month’s post on PATENTSCOPE®. [...]

  2. It just blew my mind! It is a top-notch terminology tool, which could easily make a great searching utility, and it was probably populated from the Claims and Abstract sections with the use of an extracting tool as promised by WIPO some years ago. Further testing will be necessary before declaring it the greatest thing since sliced bread. As an instance I tried with the term “Brine valve,” and I obtained way too many hits. Narrowing down to the right one will become a matter of engineering knowledge in this case or top research skills at ECLA. I then tried with the term “Phase locked loop” from the field of electrical engineering, and I got better results with both the Canadian-French term for it and the European French one–it is amazing! One of these days I will do test it…but so far everything looks so very promising.

  3. I’m glad the tool has proved useful – I was quite impressed by it myself so I’m happy to know others got the same impression. I think you are correct as far as the way the tool is populated – I do believe WIPO created synonym dictionaries from the body of patent literature. Thanks for sharing your experiences here!

  4. very interesting tool,I might give it a try sometime

  5. [...] Expand your search scope with cross lingual search – An in-depth and cutting edge look at a patent search tool that can help users expand the reach of their search beyond their native language. [...]

  6. [...] experience, but is not a substitute for a professional technical translation during a search. Cross-lingual search from PATENTSCOPE is promising because it uses technology-specific dictionaries instead of a global language [...]

  7. very helpful. looking for keyword equivalent is alwasy hard thing to do. i also know Patentscope from here. thank you very much.

  8. [...] Expand your search scope with cross lingual search – This great post covers some interesting cross lingual search technology that can truly make your prior art search “global.” [...]

  9. [...] searching, as we’ve addressed before in a couple of helpful posts about WorldWideScience.org and PATENTSCOPE specifically (although several systems have some form of cross-lingual support). This development [...]

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