To find the patents you are looking for, you need to express a set of criteria within your search tool in order to define a specific result. A result that you must do your best to anticipate and predict. In other words, you need to imagine what you might find before you look for it.
The details already known by you might be numerous. Perhaps you know the terminology and language of the technology spaces in which a patent was developed. Perhaps you know the companies involved in the production of the relevant products. Maybe you know the year of inception for a specific technology, the inventors who dreamt it up, or the lawyers who protected it. Unfortunately, you won’t know everything, so this article will help you to make use of the clues and ideas that you are aware of, in order to find out about the things that you’re not.
Types of Search Available in PatSnap
There are multiple types of searches available on PatSnap, and each one of them has different advantages in various scenarios.
The screenshot below shows you the page you would normally see after signing in. It corresponds to the Simple search, but you can find tabs that will take you to the different search types right above the search bar. Simple, Advanced, Bulk, Semantic, Expand, Classification, Legal, Image, Chemical, and Literature.
At a later point in this guide, we will be focusing on the "Advanced Search". For this reason, we will start by giving a brief introduction to the rest of the search types, and come back to the "Advanced Search" in more detail after.
Simple Search - Contrary to its name, Simple search tends to be used by our most advanced users. It consists of not much more than a search bar in which you'll have to enter your own Boolean query.
Bulk Search - Bulk Search allows you to search for a large number of patents at once. This might be from a list of patents you already have, or from another system you are moving from. Each bulk search supports up to 5,000 documents.
Semantic - Semantic Search is a quick and easy way of searching for patents relevant to a portion of text or publication/application number that you've provided. For the best results, try to enter a single patent number or at least 2,000 characters.
Expand - Expand search can be used to build a more encompassing or broader query based upon an extract of text. It works by reviewing the text and then, driven by the keywords contained in it, relevant keywords will be generated. Using these suggestions, you will be able to construct a search string that captures the full scope of innovations within a field - and avoid missing important alternative references to a certain technology.
Classification - Classification Search is used as an index, or reference for the various classification codes available in PatSnap (IPC, CPC, LOC, FI, and FTERM). You can browse the contents of this index, and select the codes you want to include in your search.
Legal - Legal search is used to assist PatSnap users to create queries using legal parameters. The results generated by a Legal Search will help you learn more about particularly litigious companies, where licensing deals or re-assignments have taken place and where a particular company's patent(s) have been made invalid or have required re-examination.
Image - Image search on PatSnap allows you to search for design patents and registered design rights in the same place by entering a search query or by uploading an image or multiple images . You can upload a JPG and PNG image up to 4MB from your personal device and PatSnap will analyze the visual features of the image and return any global designs that share visual similarity.
Chemical - PatSnap Chemical is a platform that has been created using direct feedback and ideas from both leading academics and multinational companies in the chemical industry. The result is a solution that enables researchers to instantly jump from chemical structure searches to related patents and back again in one seamless workflow. The Chemical platform can perform searches with different chemical identifiers, these include chemical name, SMILES, InChI Number, InchI Key, PubChem CID, and DrugBank ID
Literature - As its name implies, Literature Search will allow you to search for reading material unrelated to patents (journals/books). We currently have records from various technology fields including life sciences, mathematics, and electrical engineering, and are always working on increasing this to a wider range of source
Advanced search and why the pros use it
Advanced search is used by roughly 90% of all users – and for a very good reason. With Advanced search, you can define exactly what you want to find. It is possible to create a query piece by piece, selecting the different fields that your keywords are going to be searched in, and the operators that will help you make your query as specific as you need it to be. It allows for the most control over exactly what comes back in your search.
This is how the Advanced Search page looks like
You'll notice that Advanced search is made up of different sections.
There are drop-down menus that will allow you to choose the fields and operators you want to include in your query, and text boxes to type in your keywords.
The available fields are in Advanced search are the following:
Company / People
There are helpers that will provide relevant search terms for your query.
At the bottom you'll find a text box in which you can see how your query is coming along.
|And on the left side of the screen, there is a refinement tool that will allow you to select the patent types and jurisdictions that you want to include in your search.|
Training Webinar - Part 1
Our training team has prepared a series of videos that will cover and enrich the same topics that are discussed in this guide. You can watch the first part below. It covers the home page, PatSnap's data coverage, search helper, and the different available search types.
It is essential that you understand the basics of Boolean searching when you perform searches in PatSnap. If you are not very familiar with Boolean logic, take some time to go over this introduction. It will help you have a better understanding of the queries you are using, and the results you are getting in return.
Intro to Boolean Searches
When coming up with an effective patent search, it is important to understand the basics of Boolean searching, which ensures that you correctly define the relationship between any keywords, terms or fields you want to use in the search. Boolean searching can be thought of like an algebraic equation. It has many different aspects which can be important at different times and it can have many different elements which interact based on the commands you give them.
The Art of Boolean
The basic operators are AND, OR and NOT. They allow you to say whether words must be returned, whether they are optional, or not wanted at all.
OR: We would usually insert OR between terms used to provide a variant or set of options in your search. It retrieves patents containing either or both of the keywords or criteria.
AND: AND serves as a bridge between more than one term that you want to categorically appear with each other. It retrieves patents containing both keywords or criteria. Either keyword or criteria may appear first.
NOT: This operator works like the word NOT does in day to day life. If you want to look for some terms, but NOT others, you can list the others after the operator NOT. It retrieves patents containing the first keyword but not containing the second keyword.
Parentheses are the underlying operator within a query. They can change the overall meaning of a search, just by moving their placement. And just as in algebra, they will change the order in which the system looks at your query. Parentheses allow our search engine to ascertain either what it needs to consider first; or how you would want it to look for a specific group of terms, and what their relationship is with each other. This is known as order of operations.
Sometimes the difference between a highly efficient search query and an inefficient one can be the use of parentheses. It is recommended that when you use these, to have a think about how you'd like our search engine to treat the relationship between the terms that you enter.
Quotation marks allow you to specify that certain words or text should appear exactly as defined. This will often be appropriate when you have technology terms that are made of two or more words. For example, the material “carbon fiber” is two words, and therefore, needs to be located in patents as stated. You don’t want patents that have “carbon” in one place and “fiber” in another, only those documents where the two words are found together. If quotation marks are not used, our search engine will automatically insert the AND operator between words in a specific term i.e., (carbon fiber) = (carbon AND fiber).
Search fields are used prominently in Advanced, Simple, and Legal Search. They help our search algorithm know where to search for keyboards assigned to them. All you need to do is to enter a Field, always followed by a colon (i.e.,AN:) and a Keyword (i.e., AN:Nintendo). If you wish to assign more than one keyword and to include operators within a single field, all you need to do is to place all the elements within a set of parentheses (i.e., PATENT_TYPE:(A OR B)).
These are some of the most popular Fields:
TACD: looks at any key words within the Title, Abstract, Claims, or Description of our patent database.
Example: TAC:(car AND battery)
AN: looks at the original assignee of a patent.
AUTHORITY: looks at the authority in which a patent was applied for or issued.
Example: AUTHORITY:(US OR EP OR CN)
Wildcards allow you to use a root word to cover a variety of different suffixes or combinations of characters. For example, writing TTL:(electr*) will ensure that every publication that has a variation of the root word electr (electrical, eletricity, electronic, etc.) as part of their title, will be returned.
Keep in mind that PatSnap only supports the use of wildcards when they are located at the end, or the middle of a word, and they are meant to be used when stemming is turned off.
The wildcards supported by our search engine are the following:
* (Asterisk): This wildcard can be used to replace a string of characters at the end or in the middle of a word. It can be used in all text and number fields.
Search will return all the possible different words that start with the root word electr (electric, electronic, electrical, etc.)
? (Question Mark): This wildcard can be used to replace an individual character at the end or in the middle of a word. It can be used multiple times, and it can be used in all text and number fields.
Search will return results that contain any of the two different spellings, organizer or organiser.
These operators allow you to specify where you want words to appear in relation to each other. This might be, for example, when you have two words like "protein" and "analysis". You want to allow variations like "analysis of the protein", or "protein analysis" or "analysis conducted on this protein". In these 3 situations, a proximity of 3 would suffice, therefore a query of protein $W3 analysis would work well.
The position connectors supported by our search engine are the following:
$Wn: Search words will be within n words of each other, in any order.
TTL:( data $W4 process) would return documents with a title similar to "Process for duplicating data contained on a master sheet" - In which the proximity is considered, but the order in which the words appear is not relevant.
$PREn: Search words will be within n words of each other, in the order specified.
TTL:(data $PRE4 line) would return documents with a title similar to "Data processing apparatus for line justification in type composing machines" - In which data must appear first, and within a proximity of 4 words.
$WS: Search words will appear within 99 words of each other. The order in which they appear is not relevant.
TTL:(display $WS HDMI) Can return documents with a title similar to "Onscreen remote control presented by audio video display device such as TV to control source of HDMI content" or "Displaying HDMI Content at an Arbitrary Location".
Query Building Tools
Boolean Query Example
Now that we've gone through the basics of our search Boolean, let's look at an example that puts everything together:
(TACD:( ("high efficiency” OR "high $w4 efficiency” OR ultraefficient OR “ultra efficient” ) AND (photovoltaic OR solar) AND cell ) AND AUTHORITY:( US OR JP OR EP OR WO ) AND PBD_Y:[2010 to *]) NOT ( AN:Nokia OR ANS:Nokia OR ANC:Nokia OR ANCS:Nokia )
- We’re looking for the keywords/strings "high efficiency", ultraefficient, "ultra efficient", or any instance of the words high and efficiency appearing within 4 words of each other AND the variants photovoltaic OR solar. The term cell must also appear within the Title, Abstract, Claims, or Description of a patent . We’re looking for high-efficiency solar cells , and we’re using multiple variants of these words, and gathering each variant group together within a pair of parentheses.
- These patents must have been applied for or issued in the authorities US , Japan , the EPO or the WIPO . This means that any patent from outside of these 4 authorities won’t show up in the results.
- We want to consider only those documents that have been published after the year 2010.
- However, we wish to NOT include any patents applied for, or owned by the Assignee Nokia . This would include them being the original assignee, standardized assignee, current assignee or current standardized assignee.
A guide to Boolean and syntax
If you are interested in learning more about the different search types available in PatSnap, you can also check:
- What Is Smart Search?
- Advanced Search 101
- Bulk Search (PatSnap Help Center)
- Bulk Search on PatSnap (Video Guide)
- What Is Semantic Search? How Does It Work?
- What Is Expand Search?
- Expand Search on PatSnap (Video Guide)
- What Is Classification Search?
- What Is Legal Search and How Do I Use It?
- What is Image Search? How Can I Search for Design Patents Within PatSnap?
- Chemical 101