My Favorite Patent Search Tool Updates of 2012

Another year has come and gone, and it’s that time in December where we’re all racing to the nearest mall (or Amazon) to shop for holiday gifts for the important people in our lives.  Patent searchers enjoy getting presents too, and each database update is a small gift of new features and tools to improve the prior art search and analysis processes.  New databases and search platforms are the equivalent of a new bicycle or Xbox, and searchers can’t wait to take the new system for a test ride.  Like last year, I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite patent search gifts that I’ve received in the last twelve months, including updates and new platforms for both free and subscription patent search systems. Over the past year, there have been major updates to, Google Patents, and Espacenet, and I’ve been impressed by new patent search tools like the CCD and WIPS Global ADVANCED. Patent searchers have received an abundance of gifts this year, but professionals who work with patent file histories shouldn’t feel left out, either: they can take an innovative new patent file history service for a free test ride!

After the jump, learn about the best patent search system updates and new tools of 2012, as well as a unique resource for professionals who review patent file histories!

Best New Patent Search Tools

I was particularly impressed by two new patent search tools in 2012:

  • WIPS Global ADVANCEDDuring March 2012, I wrote a twopart post reviewing the new subscription-based WIPS Global ADVANCED, which will fully replace WIPS Global version 4 by March 2013. WIPS Global ADVANCED offers additional search forms that weren’t previously available in WIPS Global version 4, including family, citation, and company search options.  WIPS Global ADVANCED also offers greatly improved viewing and analysis features, including multiple analysis options for individual records (family, claims, citations), as well as an in-system analysis tool for analyzing selected collections of records (SmartAngle). The coverage of WIPS Global ADVANCED is comparable to the current WIPS Global coverage (minus the discontinued G-PAT collection (DE, FR, GB, CH) that only appears accessible on the  WIPS Global v.4).  WIPS Global Advanced therefore combines the strong JP, KR, and CN patent coverage available on WIPS Global with new patent search and analysis features.
SmartAngle tool (chart analysis).

SmartAngle tool (chart analysis) on WIPS Global ADVANCED.

  • Common Citation Document (CCD) –  In January 2012 I gave an overview of the CCD, a free tool created by the EPO, JPO, and USPTO that allows users to view documents cited by the EPO, USPTO, JPO, and PCT citations for patent families related to a specific patent application.  The CCD application includes the capability to view full-text of cited patent documents, the division of cited documents in a list by source of citation and connection to a specific patent application, the category of relevance for EPO citations,  a compilation of “classifications and fields searched” for an entire patent family, and a timeline view to illustrate the time span for a collection of citations.  The CCD is an excellent free tool to use in combination with the citation search features on subscription platforms (like PatBase), since it provides additional data for EPO citations.
The timeline view in the far left pane (in compare mode) with two specific documents viewed in two adjacent panes.

The timeline view in the far left pane (in compare mode) with two specific documents viewed in two adjacent panes within the CCD.

Best Major Updates to Patent Search Systems

Espacenet, Google Patents, and each had new features added in 2012 which greatly improved the functionality of the systems:

  • IP Business Intelligence Module on – In September 2012, Questel released a new analysis module for the subscription-based platform, and I described a few of these new analysis tools in a June 2012 post. Up to 2 million patent families can be analyzed at a time through this new module, and the module includes features like:
    • Normalized company name/technical concepts/legal status.
    • Customizable charts (axis, title, values, filters, ranges…).
    • Exclusive filters and axis able to contain search strings.
    • Stacked charts generation with colored multiple values.
    • Multiple value selections from all charts, including colored sub-sections of stacked charts.
    • Direct access to actual selected records and immediate interaction with the search module.
    • Second level “Drill Down” option.
    • Data rules (grouping/hiding) and administration (personal or shared rules) for Assignees, Inventors, Agents, IPC codes, ECLA Codes, and Concepts.
    • Dynamic data grouping by regular expression (“Use Filter as a Rule”).
    • Mapping with very precise positioning algorithms
Pick a chart type.

Pick a chart type on the IP Business Intelligence Module for

  • Patent Translate on Espacenet – In February 2012, the EPO released the new Patent Translate tool that is available through both Espacenet and the the European Publication Server and uses Google Translate technology for translation of abstracts, descriptions, and claims from and to English for French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish. In October 2012, a second set of European languages was added to the Patent Translate tool, including Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian and Polish. A blog post from March 2012 briefly describes how to use this new Espacenet on-the-fly translation tool.
Translating a German abstract to English on Espacenet using Patent Translate.

Translate a German abstract to English on Espacenet using Patent Translate.

  • Prior Art Finder on Google Patents – A blog post from August 2012 describes the new Prior Art Finder tool available on Google Patents, which can be used to locate non-patent literature (NPL) prior art related to a specific patent using various Google search tools.  Query generation for the tool is automatic (and can be used to locate additional search terms), and the federated search through various Google entities can consolidate the Google NPL search process into a single step. Automatic query generation and results are hit-and-miss and are limited to results from Google search engines, so the tool is definitely not a replacement for a professional prior art searcher.  This tool may be a useful supplement to more efficiently search Google for related non-patent prior art, and it can also be used to brainstorm additional search terms with the automatic query generation.
post search customization

Automatically generated search terms from the Prior Art Finder on Google Patents.

For Patent Professionals Who Review File Histories: Test Patent Workbench®

The Patent Workbench® service was featured in the January/February 2012 issue of the World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR).  The article is titled “Patent Workbench: A Nail Gun, Not a Hammer,” and it explains how “a new productivity tool promises to make managing reviews of a US patent file’s history a painless, efficient process.”  The article describes the innovative features of the Patent Workbench® Reader, free software that users download to view and analyze a patent file history prepared in a Patent Workbench® file:

  • The advanced search features of the Reader will readily assist patent attorneys with the claims construction process, since the search tools “provide immediate access to places in the file where a particular term is used; this takes far less time than going through a prosecution history page by page.”
  • The article also highlights the versatile claims tools available only through Patent Workbench®, such as the Evolved Claim™ (which shows how a claim changed from the time it was introduced until issuance or cancellation) and the Claims Matrix (which automatically displays all versions of one or more claims from the file history in a spreadsheet, with text comparison optionally included).

You can request a sample file to try all of the Patent Workbench® features described in the article for free!


This is just a small sampling of the numerous search system updates and new tools introduced for patent searchers during 2012. Both free and subscription search tools added innovative new analysis, search, and translation features, and new patent search products like WIPS Global ADVANCED improved upon legacy products with additional advanced search and analysis features.  National and regional search offices like the USPTO, EPO, and JPO also released unique free search products like the CCD. Finally, patent professionals have the opportunity to freely test a revolutionary patent file history service featured in the World Intellectual Property Review.  This was a blockbuster year for new patent search products and updates, and 2013 updates will be even bigger due to the release of the CPC.  See you in 2013, and have a Happy New Year!

What were your favorite updates and releases of patent search tools in 2012?  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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