Patent Cover View Alternative: Free Images at a Glance

At Intellogist®, we’re always interested and encouraged by the progress of the technology behind prior art searching. Rarely (and disappointingly), that progress stops and even reverses.

Two weeks ago, I marveled at the disappearance of Google Patents Cover View. Today, with a reminder from loyal reader Mike Lloyd, I’ll revisit patent search system PatSnap to provide you with an alternative to Google’s missing feature: a search result display view that shows patent images from multiple documents at once.

This type of feature is a nice perk for users who want to quickly scan patent drawings from a larger results set–a best practices patent searching technique for Mechanical Engineering searchers.

Stick around as I show you how to use this feature and evaluate the reasons why it is and isn’t a suitable replacement for the lost Google display option.


PatSnap is a free patent searching site that provides access to US, EP, and WIPO patent documents. Users can do advanced or basic searching, save documents and queries to lists, visit a search history, set up alerts, download documents and more.

One of the highlights of the PatSnap system is the clean visual interface that is often as helpful as it is inviting. Faceted search refinement options accompany the results list, and several sorting and viewing options are available at the click of a button. Previously on the Intellogist Blog, we looked at the innovative “thumbnail magnification” feature of the PatSnap system: a way to quickly zoom in on a patent drawing without leaving the page.

To enable the Google Patents Cover View alternative solution I referenced in the beginning of this article, first enter your search terms and then select the “Thumbnail” viewing option on the results page.

PatSnap Thumbnail View

"Thumbnail" must be selected under the "View as" option.

The result (as can also be seen in part of the image above) is a set of 20 images per page, in rows of 6, 6, 6, and 2.

This provides a reasonable replacement for Google Patents Cover View in some senses. On the positive side of the ledger:

  • Images are available for most patent documents
  • Users can place their cursor over a specific image in order to see the bibliographic information, immediately download the patent, or view a related family member
  • Images tend to be representative images

On the other hand, there are several parts of PatSnap’s Thumbnail view that leave room for improvement:

  • Images do not appear to be available for US patent documents until several months after they have been in the PatSnap system
  • Thumbnail image size is not user adjustable or able to be magnified (within the system)
  • Images are sometimes simply the cover page of the patent document, leaving the drawing shown on that page extremely small and hard to make out to the user

After weighing the positives and negatives of PatSnap’s Thumbnail View, I don’t hesitate to recommend it to those who really enjoyed Google Patents Cover View. Considering it’s free and you can easily try it out, it’s worth seeing if this system and results display work for your searching style!

What do you think of PatSnap Thumbnail View? Do you have any other interesting multiple document image viewing solutions? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

Patent Information from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

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3 Responses

  1. I am so angry that Google would remove thumbnails view! That is the most ridiculous thing ever, and they called it an enhancement.

  2. [...] we were disappointed to see Google Patent Cover View disappear. We were so disappointed, we looked to other search systems to see where we could get a comparable [...]

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