Once you have found a patent of interest, there are various reasons why you may well want to look for similar technologies, these include:
- To learn from others pursuing similar areas
- To determine patentability or freedom-to-operate (FTO)
- To find out who's in the market and the competitive landscape
- Determine other opportunities for or risks to a project
There are a few ways to find similar technologies for a patent you have already identified, using various tools in PatSnap. This article will show you a few techniques.
The easiest way to do this is to refer to the “Similar Patents" section. Once you have found a patent you like, you can click on it and enter into the individual patent view. When you are in the single individual patent view, down the left-hand side there are a number of tabs. The last tab at the bottom is the “Similar Patents” section. This tab analyses the patent you are currently viewing and pulls up the 100 most similar patents to this, based on keyword similarity.
Landscaping / Magnifying Glass Tool
An alternative method to do this is to create a search. When you are happy with the search and have found a really interesting patent, you can then plot the search results onto a Landscape. When in the landscape, you can search for the individual patent that you liked. This can be achieved by selecting the “Magnifying Glass” icon (1) and then typing in either keywords or publication number etc (2). PatSnap will either identify the exact patent on the map (3), if you use the publication number or keyword it will highlight a group and bring up a list of all the patents that contain the keywords in your search.
The way in which the Landscape populates individual patents is based on their commonality. The closer two patents are, the more similar they are. This is because the algorithm behind the landscape plots patents based on their IPC/CPC similarity. Therefore, we can say those patents closest to our patent of interest are the most similar.
You can then extract those patents near to the patent of interest from the landscape using the grid tool, for further analysis if need be.
Another way to find similar patents is to construct a new search based off a particular patent of interest. We can use this patent we have found, we can open it up and look in its claims. Reading through the patent's claims, we can identify and note down its most crucial and fundamental elements. We can take these key elements that we found in the claims and use those keywords to create a new search. We can also take a look at the IPC codes that the patent of interest has been filed under and build this into our new search.
For example, let’s take the following patent US5440216 which is a Robot Cleaner. Essentially, we would use the keywords “Robot” and “Cleaner” in our new search, but we can also take into account keywords such as “Automation”, “Android”, “Domestic”, “Maid” etc. Since looking in the claims of this patent, an important element was the use of a “navigation sensor”. So we can use the keywords “Navigation Sensor” and also “Direction” and “Sensor”. Once we have our keywords in place, we can start to add in an IPC code to really refine our search to the same industry sub-section. This particular patent has been filed under 7 different IPC categories, including G05D1/02 and A47L9/00. It's best practice to take the first sections of those IPCs as it allows to keep the search broad enough. So let's take G05D (“systems for controlling or regulating non-electric variables”) and A47L (“Domestic washing or cleaning; suction cleaning in general”). With all the above information in mind, my query would look something like this:
((Robot OR automation OR android) AND (cleaner OR domestic OR maid) AND (navigation OR direction) AND (Sensor OR radar)) AND IPC: (G05D OR A47L)
Another method to find similar patents is using the citation analysis screen. Again, if we find a patent we like, (for demonstration purposes) let’s use patent US6336937B1. The citation map screen can be accessed through the individual patent view; it is one of the options given under the "Citation" tab.
This patent has 31 backward citations and 357 forward citations. We know that whenever a patent is cited either forward or backward, a company or inventor is citing a particular aspect of that patent's claims and thus it is of interest to them. We can conclude from this, that patents that cite other patents are inherently similar as they are referencing certain aspects of its technology. Therefore, we can say that patents citing your patent of choice are to a degree similar technologies.
The final method includes using our semantic search feature which includes an algorithm that pulls out and matches the 1000 most relevant patents to a patent of interest. There are two different ways in which you can do this:
1. Firstly, you can paste the patent's abstract or claims into the semantic search bar.
2. Secondly, you can type the patent's publication number into the semantic search bar.