[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] After I wrote my last post on free patent search sites, a LinkedIn user on the Intellectual Property group recommended a free patent search tool that was just too great to overlook. This tool has it all: free patent searching for both US and non-US patents and patent applications, non-patent literature searching, analytic features, export of patent data into Excel, and even free bulk patent downloads. The site PatentsSearcher.com is an excellent tool that both professional and casual patent searchers can utilize for finding, downloading, and analyzing US and international patent documents. Read on to learn about PatentsSearcher’s best features!
PatentsSearcher began as a university project, and the project leader was Dr. Vagelis Hristidis. The beta version of PatentsSearcher was released in Spring 2011 and adds international patent searching, news and blog searching, and patent analytics to the arsenal of site features. The search form for the website is accessible directly from the homepage, and users can select “Advanced Search” (below the main search field) to select from a variety of limiting criteria and extra text fields. Users can choose to “Intelligently expand scope of query to locate best results” within the advanced form. One downside of this search form is a lack of any help guides to define the correct format for entering search terms like inventor names or US/ECLA classifications. The site does offer a FAQ section that defines how text terms are separated (by spaces) and how to create phrase searches through the use of quotation marks. A help guide would be very useful, however, that defined any other available Boolean or truncation operators. Users should also note that the maximum number of patent documents in a result set is 1,000.
The search results page offers such a wealth of features, it’s hard to know where to start! In the horizontal menu at the top of the page, users can choose to view search results for “US Patents,” “Non-US Patents,” “News/Blogs”, and “Analytics.” The horizontal menu also displays the number of search results and the search terms used in your query. A vertical menu on the left side of the page lets users choose how their results are sorted: relevancy score, title, issue date, file date, patent number, or class name. The left menu also displays “Result Export Options,” including the options to export the data from all patent results to an Excel spreadsheet or the choice to download merged Patent PDFs. I’d personally recommended downloading selected patent documents through the Patents Cart option, since downloading all search results into Excel or PDF format takes more time and creates more extraneous data to wade through. Users can select to add a search result to the Patents Cart by selecting the small cart icon beside the result title. Finally, the left menu allows users to “search non-patent sources” by exporting the original or expanded query to Google or Google Scholar.
Besides the patent number, title, and cart icon, each search result can include an excerpt from the document text with keywords highlighted. Users define in the Advanced Search form what information to include in the search results (issue date, filing date, class number, class name, snippet, assignee, inventor, abstract). The individual search results allow users to view backwards and forward references and similar patents. An option to download the individual patent PDF is also included in the search results. Users can quickly view images from the patent document by mousing over the search result and allowing a small representative image to pop up.
Exporting and Downloading Results
As I mentioned above, I’d recommend first saving the relevant patent documents to the Patents Cart before exporting or downloading. Users access the patents cart list by scrolling to the top of the page and selecting the cart icon next to the words “View Cart” in the upper right corner. Within the patents cart list, users can add notes to individual documents and export the document data in Excel or view the PDFs of the documents with the annotations included. If a user selects to view the Merged Patents PDF, they will download all patent documents in the list into a single PDF file. A page limit is not mentioned, but I wasn’t able to download a merged PDF over 75 pages.
An interesting new feature in the beta version of PatentsSearcher is the analytics section. Users can choose to analyze their search results by keywords, classes, assignees, or inventors. It isn’t clear whether the analysis is of only US patent documents or both US and non-US results. The three available analysis visualizations are a keyword cloud (more common terms in larger font), a bubble chart (more common terms in larger bubbles), or a cumulative temporal trend line graph, which illustrates the number of patents corresponding to certain terms over a period of years. The visualizations are not customizable like Patexia’s visualizations, but they may be useful for identifying certain prominent trends in the search results.
PatentsSearcher is a free patent search and analysis system with an impressive variety of features: data export, PDF downloads, non-patent literature searching, and even patent analytics. PatentsSearcher does have some limitations, like a lack of help guides, a limit to the number of search results, and non-customizable visualizations. Despite these issues, PatentsSearcher has a fantastic interface (with no intrusive advertisements!) and useful features that I’d recommended to both professional and beginner prior art searchers.
Have you used PatentsSearcher? How was your experience? Can you recommend any other free patent search sites? Let us know in the comments!
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.