Top 10 Features of The German Patent Office’s DEPATISnet: Part 1

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DEPATISnet has many more useful features than your average free patent search system.  According to Stephen Adams in Information Sources in Patents, 2nd edition (see left sidebar), DEPATISnet is a “multi-country portal providing search access to a range of countries via the DPMA (German Patent and Trademark Office)” (154).  So is DEPATISnet just a German version of Espacenet?  What makes this search system unique?  Some remarks by Adams  from Information Sources in Patents piqued my interest:

The characteristics of this site are somewhat different from other free-of-charge portals, in that it offers the option of secure (https) access and a much more sophisticated command language, based upon the IKOFAX system used within the DPMA. (154)

I was particularly intrigued by the secure browsing option available through DEPATISnet.  The only problem, though, is that the second edition of Information Sources in Patents was published in 2006.  Is the secure browsing option still available today?  And what are some other interesting features of the DEPATISnet system?

I guess it’s time to pay a visit to DEPATISnet, in order to answer all of my questions.  Let’s take a look at the system’s top features!

1. English Interface

Users can view DEPATISnet through either a German or English interface.  By selecting “English user interface”  on the entry page, users will be taken to an English-language version of the portal.  The search forms and help features are in English, but PDFs of the documents remain in their native languages.

Choose to view DEPATISnet through an English interface.

2.  Secure Connection

If users want to browse through a secure connection, they just need to check the box beside the lock icon in the upper right corner of the page. 

Select the check box to turn on the secure connection.

By checking the box, users will switch to an HTTPS connection.

Search through an encrypted connection.

3. IPC Index/Search/Concordance

Through the main menu at the top of each page in DEPATISnet, users can access the search forms under the “Search” tab.  Users can also search or browse the International Patent Classification system by selecting the “IPC” tab.

Either search DEPATISnet using the different forms, or search the IPC.

Browse through the hierarchical index (in German, English, or French), search the IPC by keyword or symbol, or search through the IPC concordance for the most up-to-date IPC codes.

Search the IPC, view the index, or search the IPC concordance.

4. Expert Search

The expert search form on DEPATISnet helps users to create complex queries by allowing users to select and insert the field symbols, truncation operators, Boolean operators, and parentheses into a command line interface form.  Users can view the help section (discussed in the next post) for guidance on how to create queries through this search form.     

The expert search form on DEPATISnet helps users craft their queries.


The DEPATISnet help guide defines the “IKOFAX Messenger query language” as “the internal search language of DEPATIS.”   Users can utilize this query language to construct complex searches in a command line interface under the “Ikofax” menu option.  This section is like the expert search form without the training wheels.  IKOFAX offers the most flexible search capabilities, since users can utilize fields, nesting, Boolean operators, truncation operators, comparison operators, and even proximity operators to create search queries.  View the help section on IKOFAX searches for detailed guidance in creating queries.

Use IKOFAX syntax in a command line interface form.

Next Time…

We’ve seen some of the unique features of DEPATISnet, from the secure connection option to the IKOFAX query language.  These are only half of the useful qualities in our top 10 list, so join us Wednesday for #6-10!

Do you know of any other free search systems with a secure browsing option?  Let us know in the comments!

Read Part 2.

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.


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