We English-speaking searchers often have to conduct global patent investigations. In order to search non-English collections, many of us need to rely primarily on English-language abstract files such as the Patent Abstracts of Japan collection. Another good option is to search the Derwent World Patents Index, where human editors translate and summarize the document into an English abstract, helping to standardize the technical terminology used in the patent. But as we all know, it’s impossible to shrink all the useful content of a patent into an abstract, no matter how well it’s translated.
For important prior art searches, companies should consider initiating native-language full text searches in collections of particular interest – and these almost always include Japanese language patents. But it’s also important to understand which search tools are being used by Japanese-language patent searchers, and whether they have access to high-quality full text data. Recently I was fortunate to catch a demonstration of CKS Web, a Japanese-language interface which can search a database of full text Japanese patent documents in their native language.
According to CKS representatives, although the product offers full text produced by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) from the date range 1986-1993, their collection has been produced relatively recently, which means that it may benefit from advances in OCR technology when compared with older collections. Another advantage is that patent drawings are also scanned and “clipped,” meaning they appear in the product alongside the patent text; users do not have to download the document image in order to review the patent drawings.
Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of CKS Web was the fact that the search system includes Japanese legal status data and re-assignment data directly from the Japanese Patent Office. This is an advantage over the multi-country search tools that we frequently discuss on this blog, which rely primarily on the INPADOC legal status file as a source. (The exception is Questel products, which benefit from that company’s relationship with the Patolis Corp.)
Furthermore, CKS Web applies their own proprietary algorithm to generate predictions of the status of each patent document, i.e. whether they are “live” or “dead.” The product displays this data on the search hit list, making it possible to scan the list for live documents. With something like this it’s always best to be cautious, as the Japanese Patent Office is really the only entity that can make that determination. However, the feature may still be of use in certain situations.
Of course, the quality of the search tool is only one of the ingredients necessary for a successful search. It’s also essential that your native-language searcher is trained in search strategy formulation, a skill that comes with experience. The provider of this blog, Landon IP, is one company that offers high quality native-language Japanese patent searching with full text coverage.
For a more complete description of CKS Web, including screenshots, please see our Intellogist Community Report on CKS Web. If you’re familiar with CKS Web, you can register on Intellogist (for free!) to add your own comments about the system.
What are your experiences with native-language Japanese searching? Let us know in the comments!
This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Kristin Whitman. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.