Expand Your Patent Search Query Through Multilingual Translation Tools

[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] During an initial scope of the available prior art, it can be useful for a patent searcher to expand their query through machine-translation tools to include query terms translated into multiple major languages.  Even if the searcher isn’t fluent in multiple languages, they will still be able to get a general idea of how much prior art is available internationally on a particular technology. When conducting a global prior art search, there’s no replacement for a search conducted by one or more native-language speakers through the patent and non-patent literature in multiple major languages.  Although the following query expansion tools shouldn’t be used as substitutes for a thorough search by multilingual professional searchers, these tools will still be helpful for scoping the availability of international prior art.

The CLIR (Cross-Lingual Information Retrieval) on PATENTSCOPE is the best free option for cross-lingual query expansion, and we’ve briefly looked at this tool in a past Valentine’s Day post.  If users have access to PatBase, they can utilize the new Language Explorer tool (added to the system in March 2012) to expand their query.   The Language Explorer tool is powered by CLIR, so users will get similar query expansion suggestions through both CLIR and Language Explorer.  If users subscribe to Questel’s Orbit.com platform, they can utilize the Multilingual Search Wizard to expand their search with terms in German, French, and English.

After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at each of the multilingual query expansion tools on PATENTSCOPE, PatBase, and Orbit.com!

Tool Name: CLIR (Cross-Lingual Information Retrieval)

Available On: PATENTSCOPE, developed by WIPO (free)

How Do You Use It? The CLIR search form for PATENTSCOPE is accessible here, and users can choose whether they want the system to automatically expand their query, or whether they want to manually control the query expansion process. On the initial search form, users only need to enter their query term, select the initial query language, choose whether to create the expansion in automatic or supervised mode, and choose whether the query should be constructed for higher precision or higher recall.

If the user selects the supervised expansion mode, they are then asked to define the domain of the query and select synonyms for the query terms. They can then view and edit all translated synonyms for each language (English, German, French, Japanese, Korean Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Swedish, and Dutch,  as well as relevant IPC codes) before submitting the final query. Note that truncated IPC codes are automatically added to the query (based on the selected technology domain), but users can delete these codes before submitting the query. In the expanded query below, the truncated IPC codes were included in the final query.

For a full guide on using CLIR, see this publication on the WIPO website.

Sample Term: Centrifuge

Expanded Query: (DE_AB:(“Zentrifuge” OR “Centrifuge” OR “centrifugal” OR “Spin assymetrischen” OR “Spin” OR “zentrifugalen” OR “Zentrifugieren” OR “Kreiselverdichterkühlanlage” OR “spinnen” OR “Schleuder” OR “Spinning” OR “Schneckenzentrifuge” OR “Zentrifugation” OR “centrifugally”) OR EN_AB:(“centrifuge” OR “centifugal” OR “centrifugal machine” OR “solids from liquids” OR “spin” OR “spinner”) OR ES_AB:(“contrifugo” OR “centrifuga” OR “cen trifugo” OR “hilatura” OR “cetrifugación” OR “turbulencias” OR “patinaje” OR “rotacional” OR “hilado” OR “difusor” OR “vortice” OR “retransformación rotatorio” OR “espín” OR “roscados”) OR FR_AB:(“centrifugé” OR “centrifugeur” OR “filage” OR “tournoyant” OR “rotation” OR “filer” OR “filature” OR “spin” OR “centrifugal” OR “amovible” OR “patinage” OR “torsion” OR “nez de rotor” OR “panier centrifugeur”) OR IT_AB:(“centrifuga” OR “targhetta dei dati caratteristici” OR “filatura” OR “regolante” OR “razione” OR “macchina centrifuga” OR “mediante centrifugazione” OR “ogiva per turbomotore” OR “filatoio” OR “cella” OR “solidi da liquidi” OR “adattamento a rotazione” OR “particelle solide da un liquido”) OR JA_AB:(“遠心” OR “スピン” OR “渦巻” OR “紡糸” OR “遠心力” OR “ロタ” OR “回転” OR “遠心分離” OR “スピニング” OR “紡績”) OR KO_AB:(“원심” OR “스핀” OR “원심분리기” OR “원심식” OR “원심력” OR “원심분리” OR “강화 원심분리” OR “원심분리장치” OR “원심분리기를 이용한” OR “탈수” OR “제한” OR “방사” OR “부유밀도구배” OR “원심분리에 의한”) OR NL_AB:(“centrifuge” OR “centri” OR “centrifugale” OR “spinnen” OR “roterend” OR “spin” OR “te centrifugeren massa” OR “te centri fugeren massa” OR “centrifugaalafscheider” OR “centrifugeren” OR “door” OR “het tot” OR “snelheidsvariator dobby getouw”) OR PT_AB:(“centrifuga” OR “centrífuga” OR “centrìfuga” OR “fiação” OR “fiadeira” OR “alinhar” OR “orgao facão” OR “troca” OR “spin” OR “fluido giratório” OR “condicionar” OR “repuxar” OR “rotativa” OR “centrifugaçço”) OR RU_AB:(“центробежный” OR “центрифуга” OR “центрифугирования” OR “ткацких” OR “прядильная” OR “формования” OR “образования” OR “кок” OR “закруткой” OR “прядению” OR “центробежной машине” OR “жидкостей от механических примесей”) OR SV_AB:(“centrifug” OR “spinning” OR “processbarhet” OR “renare” OR “och” OR “centrifugering” OR “centrifugalseparator” OR “vatspunna” OR “att cellulosabaserade” OR “centrifugaltyp” OR “centrifugalkr” OR “centrifugal” OR “rotationsstabiliserad” OR “spinner”) OR ZH_AB:(“离心” OR “纺丝” OR “自转” OR “旋扰” OR “植绒” OR “自旋” OR “旋转” OR “纺织” OR “喷丝” OR “旋压式” OR “反” OR “毂” OR “旋转器” OR “旋冲”)) AND ICF:(B01 OR B01B OR B02 OR B03 OR B04 OR B05 OR B06 OR B07 OR B08 OR B25 OR B26 OR B28C OR B30 OR B82 OR C0? OR C1? OR C25 OR C3? OR C4? OR C9? OR E02 OR F0? OR F15 OR F16 OR F16P OR F17 OR F22 OR F23 OR F24 OR F25 OR F26 OR F28 OR G21 OR H02)

The initial CLIR search form, where users can enter their term and select to expand the query in automatic or supervised mode.

In supervised mode on CLIR, select synonyms for the term.

View and edit all translated terms through the supervised mode of CLIR before running the final query.

Tool Name: Language Explorer

Available On: PatBase, developed by Minesoft and RWS Group (subscription)

How Do You Use It? After signing in to PatBase, select the Language Explorer option from the “Search” drop-down menu.  Enter a term to translate, select the initial language, and choose to make the  expansion narrower or broader.  The tool will then display the translated term and synonyms in multiple languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese), and the user can select which translated terms to add to the query.  The Language Explorer tool doesn’t appear to be available for PatBase Express.

Sample Term: Centrifuge

Expanded Query: (centrifuge OR Zentrifuge OR centrifugal OR Centrifuge OR zentrifugale OR spektrophotometrisch OR Einregeln OR Fliehkraft entstehenden OR Zentrifugalkraftbasis OR Turbinen OR centrifugeuse OR centrifugeur OR centrifugal OR enroulement OR celle OR centrifuga OR suministrar OR inercia OR centrefuga OR centrifugo.sp OR ciclón OR cetrifuga OR centrifuga OR centrifugo OR centrifugos OR condicionar)

Select all relevant translated terms to add to the query through Language Explorer on PatBase.

Tool Name: Multilingual Search Wizard

Available On: Orbit.com, developed by Questel (subscription)

How Do You Use It? After signing on to Orbit.com, access the general search form. Under the Keywords section of the search form, user can enter any term in the text box and then select the “…” icon beside the form to open the Keyword Search Wizard.  The Keyword Search Wizard includes a Multilingual Dictionary, where users can select from a hierarchical list of synonyms and translated terms in English, German, and French to include in the query.  After selecting all relevant terms, click “OK” to insert all selected terms into the query.

Sample Term: Centrifuge

Expanded Query: ((centrifuge?) OR Abscheider? OR Abzugvorrichtung? OR Separator? OR Trenner? OR Trennvorrichtung? OR Zentrifug?? OR ausstechen OR gerahmt?? OR rahmt OR rahmen??? OR zentrifugal???? OR zentrifugiert?? OR extractor? OR separator? OR centrifugal OR skimmed OR skimming OR centrifugeur? OR centrifugeuse? OR extracteur? OR separateur? OR ecremeuse? OR epurateur? OR centrifugal?? OR centrifugaux OR centrifuge? OR centrifuge? OR centrifugeur?? OR centrifuge? OR extrait? OR separant OR separe? OR ecremant OR ecreme? OR ecumant OR ecume?)

Select relevant synonyms and translated terms in English, French, or German through the Multilingual Search Wizard on Orbit.com.


Of these three tools, the CLIR  on PATENTSCOPE includes the most language translation options and user control of the query expansion process.  The Language Explorer on PatBase utilizes CLIR technology, but it doesn’t allow the user to select the technology domain or synonyms, which the user can do through the supervised mode of the CLIR interface.  The CLIR interface also seems to include more language options than the Language Explorer (12 languages on CLIR vs. five languages on Language Explorer).  The Multilingual Search Wizard on Orbit.com only provides term translations in three languages.  Since the CLIR interface on PATENTSCOPE is free to use, I’d recommend first searching PATENTSCOPE using the query expansion options on CLIR when conducting a multilingual patent search.  Then, depending on your subscriptions and what fits your workflow best, you can utilize the multilingual search tools on Orbit.com and PatBase to fill in the gaps.

Do you know of other multilingual query expansion tools available on any patent or non-patent literature search systems?  Let us know in the comments!

Patent Searches 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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