Sunyu Mobile Patent Search App

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Need to patent search on the go? Had a thought pop into your head after you’ve settled in to bed and don’t want to leave the warmth under the blanket to enter your search query? Chinese company Jiangsu Sunyu Information Technology Co. (Sunyu Infotech) has developed an interesting (and free) mobile app for iPhone/iPad/iPod/Android systems that allows you to conduct title and abstract searching on an impressive patent database. This isn’t the first time we’ve covered mobile apps, but I can say now that this is the most impressive one I’ve come across so far. Read on to find out more details and impressions!


This app was first brought to my attention by a colleague who had downloaded it on a whim (hey, it was free, why not!) and found it to be a useful tool in his prior art searching arsenal. He told me that he liked to use it for quick searching while he had his iPad around but didn’t want to head over to the computer and boot everything up. After playing around with the app, I started to see why he had developed an affinity for it: it’s simple enough to use without a keyboard and mouse yet meaty enough to find useful prior art.

The following fields are supported in advanced search mode:

  • Keyword in title
  • Keyword in title or abstract
  • Publication number
  • Application number
  • Priority number
  • Publication date
  • Applicant
  • Inventor
  • European Classification (ECLA)
  • International Patent Classification (IPC)

While full text searching is a notable omission, there are enough options to allow for a quick overview of prior art. All these fields wouldn’t mean much if the coverage or document view and management features weren’t up to snuff, but in my opinion these two areas are where the Patent Search app really shines.

The interface is clean and friendly, with search history and a favorites list accessible at all times. To move individual documents to the favorites list, all the user needs to do is open the detailed record view (bibliographic/abstract data) and touch the heart icon. These “favorited” documents stay saved indefinitely, but there is a minor catch. Sunyu saves your favorited documents on a remote server and identifies you not by user name or device identification, but by wi-fi IP address that you’re connected to. (Note: this may be different in the iPhone/Android version, all testing for this article was done on an iPad on a wi-fi connection.) The result of this arrangement is that documents you have favorited at home will not be available at work. Luckily there is an easy way around this: the app’s email function. From any detailed record view (or full PDF, which we’ll get to in a second) you can easily send the compiled bibliographic/abstract information along with a zip file of the PDF to any email address. For those unsure of their IP address situation, this may be the best way to compile documents of interest for later use.

When displaying results, users can sort by number or title, but it appears that some kind of relevance system is used to bring keyword weighted results to the top of the pile. 15 results per page are displayed with patent number and title shown. An overall limit of 500 results may be accessed per search query.

Equally impressive to the nice interface design (tilting the iOS device allows you to switch the view from landscape to portrait for your convenience; English, Chinese, and Japanese versions available) is the patent coverage accessible to the user. The following databases are available:

  • All – (including all the below databases plus additional coverage such as CA, RU, SI — exact coverage unknown)
  • US – United States
  • JP – Japan
  • GB – United Kingdom
  • DE – Germany
  • FR – France
  • EP – European Patent Office
  • CH – Switzerland
  • CN – China

Even more impressive is that every document I opened up during testing had a full PDF version (that could be emailed for free, no less).

To sum up my experience with the “Patent Search” app, I was quite impressed at the niche I felt it could fill in my patent searching routine. At the low low cost of free, the barrier to entry is minor and I recommend you check it out if you spend a good amount of time using your iOS or Android device. On the other hand, maybe I don’t need to be patent searching in bed…

Have you checked out Patent Search by Sunyu? Do you enjoy any other mobile patent searching apps (maybe some of the apps covered at ipInsiders)? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Patent Searches 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 search, technical translation, and information services.

5 Responses

  1. I’ll just reiterate the point made occasionally that you don’t know who’s watching your searching. Search strings entered for a novelty search could be giving the game away and potentially invalidating an application.

    … and you definitely don’t need to be patent searching in bed. We’re already blurring the work-life line too much.

    • I agree that caution is warranted…especially if you’re worried about wi-fi security as well.

      P.S. The day I patent search in bed they need to take me away.

  2. Cool…..but this app. should be developed for normal cell phones as well….

  3. This is a decent app, but the PDF emails appeared to be single pages in a zip file (at least for me) … kind of annoying.

    Admittedly biased, but I think the patent tools site looks great on the iPad. And since it’s the live site, the full functionality is available. http://tools.patentcalls.com/search/content

    It might be worth creating a tablet app to complement the PCI iPhone app, but hard to justify when the native website works just as well.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Patrick!

      I think it might be interesting to take a look at different patent websites and how they fare on a mobile platform. I’ll add it to the queue!

      Chris

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