Free Chinese Patent Search System Comparison

Over two years ago, the Intellogist Blog discussed Chinese patent searching on a budget. The free search options for Chinese patent documents included in that post were SIPO, CNIPR/C-Pat, CNPAT, Surf IP and IPEXL. We later published a post on the free Chinese patent search options on  Zhihuiya.com. Over the past two years, these websites have all undergone many changes, and some of the search systems are no longer freely available.  Surf IP and C-Pat are no longer available online, and  Zhihuiya.com is now redirected to CN.Patsnap.com, which only appears to be available for subscribed users.  Continue reading to learn about the free Chinese patent search options currently available through the remaining search systems: SIPO, CNIPR, CNPAT, and IPEXL (which draws on SIPO data).  If you need a global prior art search conducted by a professional searcher fluent in Chinese, you can always contact patent search professionals who have access to both free and subscription patent databases with broad Chinese patent coverage.

After the jump, learn about the free Chinese patent search options available through SIPO, CNIPR, CNPAT, and IPEXL!

SIPO

The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) offers a free English patent search interface for invention and utility models.

The search will be conducted on English-language titles and abstracts in the collection. Users can also produce a full text machine translation of individual documents. The machine translation technology, called the China Patent Machine Translation system (CPMT), was researched and developed by China Patent Information Center.

Users can access the patent search system through the SIPO English-language homepage by selecting the “Patent Search” link in the menu bar on the right side of the page. Users can select to search within the Invention or Utility Model databases (or within both). Users enter queries within multiple fields by utilizing the top half of the site to search by Publication Number, Publication Date, Application Number, Application Date, Title, Abstract, IPC, Applicant, Inventor, Patent Agent, Patent Agency Code, Priority, and Province/Country Code. Users can also enter queries in the Combination Search at the bottom of the page, where they can search within multiple fields, use parentheses, and join search terms by Boolean operators. A guide for correctly formatting search terms and allowable operators is found under “Help.”

Users can choose to sort their results by any field listed in the “Sort By” drop-down menu at the top of the search page, in ascending or descending order.

When users select a result from the record list to view, they will first be taken to a bibliographic record of the patent document. Users can view a machine translation of the full document by selecting “Machine Translation” at the bottom of the page. Upon first selecting the “Machine Translation” button for a particular record, an English-language translation of the claims will be displayed. To see the rest of the specification, users should scroll to the bottom of the page and select the “Description” button.

The EPO website provides guidance on how to utilize other free search tools provided by SIPO:

The English-language bibliographic data for a Chinese patent record on the SIPO website.

CNIPR

China Intellectual Property Net (CNIPR) is a platform for Chinese patent searching, monitoring, document translation, document delivery, and Chinese Pharmaceutical patent searches, maintained by the Intellectual Property Publishing House (IPPH). The free Chinese patent search platform C-Pat is no longer available through CNIPR, but users can subscribe to an English-language version of CNIPR.  See this page on the English version of the CNIPR website for pricing information.

Users can still search for Chinese patent documents on the Chinese-language version of the CNIPR website for free. The EPO provides a step-by-step guide on retrieving Chinese documents from IPPH/SIPO’s CNIPR database. A fielded search form (in Chinese) allows users to search for Chinese patents, utility models, designs, granted patents, TW patents, and HK patents (as of September 2012, additional authority coverage appears to be available).  The full record displays bibliographic data, abstract, main claim, legal status, citations, patent family, and automated abstract/keywords. The EPO guide indicates that users can download the document in TIFF format, when available.

A Chinese-language record on CNIPR.

CNPAT

China Patent Database (CNPAT) is a free online search platform for Chinese patents, patent applications, utility models, and designs, created by the China Patent Information Center.  A majority of the interface only is available in Chinese, although users can view the fields for the advanced and expert search forms in English.  The site includes a quick keyword search form (Chinese only), a fielded search form (field labels available in English), and a command line interface (field labels available in English). Users can choose to included thumbnail images in the search results (which are only viewable in Chinese). The full record may include bibliographic data (including the first claim, when available), drawings, the full-text PDF, full claims, and legal status. It appears that a translation service is available for title, abstract, and first claim for “VIP Users Only.”

A Chinese-language record on CNPAT.

IPEXL

Users can create a free account to log in to IPEXL (maintained by the Intellectual Property Exchange) and search through the following collections for free: US, US applications, China (native), and Singapore. The CN patent collection includes Chinese-language patent data only, available through SIPO.  A fielded form allows users to search through a variety of fields (abstract, title, inventor, attorney, agency, applicant/assignee, IPC, etc.), and users can also limit the search by document number, publication data, application date, and patent type. The list of search results and full document records include basic bibliographic information in Chinese (title, inventor, applicant, attorney, abstract, IPC, document number, publication date. application date, etc.). Users can view the original source of the data on the SIPO website, create a permanent link to share the record, or create a graph of citation relationships for the record.

A Chinese-language record on IPEXL.

Conclusion

All Chinese patent search data originates from SIPO, although each website’s search interface provides a different user experience.  While English translation options on CNIPR and CNPAT are only available for subscribed users, both SIPO and IPEXL offer a free English search interface (although users on IPEXL must use Chinese-language queries).  English-language users will probably have the easiest time utilizing the SIPO English-language search interface, since the user can enter queries in English and create full English-language machine translations for patent records.  The SIPO website also provides additional free services (in Chinese), such as legal status search and file history information.

Although English-language patent searchers may be able to conduct a basic initial search of a portion of SIPO’s Chinese patent collection using the machine translation services on the SIPO website, there is no substitute for a native-language searcher when conducting a comprehensive prior art search.  Always contact a patent search professional who is fluent in Chinese and has access to global patent and non-patent literature search systems if you need a patent search for business or legal purposes.
Do you know of other free Chinese patent search options?  Let us know in the comments!

Technical Translations from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. 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.

One Response

  1. Great post Joelle. Now that our Shanghai office is open, we are being flooded with customer requests to help them navigate the fast growing China patent system. The tools you reference demonstrate how important IP is to China and the investments they are making in this area.

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