Patents can be a rich source of technical information and a critical component of a literature search. Contained within a patent is a list of cited references of both publications and related patents which can be of great use during a literature review. All patents are classified by subject and being able to find other patents in the same class is essential in achieving a comprehensive search. The steps below lay out a strategy to search for patents.
Patents may be searched in the USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT). The USPTO houses full text for patents issued from 1976 to the present and PDF images for all patents from 1790 to the present.
Great database to search for Patents by company name. Enter the company name and search by "applicant" in the pull down menu
Google Patents & USPTO: Six Step Strategy
The steps below lay out a strategy to search for patents .
Use Google Patents to begin your search with keywords or a phrase enclosed by quotes. When selecting keywords to use in a search be sure to include technical terms. Is this a product or process ? What is the physical composition of the invention? How is the invention used? Also include synonyms that may be used to describe the product or process.
From the results from your Google Patents search identify a closely matching patents to your search terms. Click on the link to view that patent on USPTO webpage. Find the classification of the patent you are viewing and plug that classification number into the USPTO database . Select classification system "CPC" enter the classification symbol and Select Content: "Scheme" and click submit.
This takes you to the appropriate classification for your patent and shows all the subclasses for the patent.
Use the relevant CPC code to look up patents in the US Patent & Trademark Office, Patent Full Text and Image Database (PatFT) and the USPTO, Patent Application Full Text and Image Database (AppFT).
Review the patents within the classification by focusing on the front page information of abstract and representative drawings. During this quick review select patents that might be most relevant for in depth review.
With this group of relevant patents look at them in depth by reviewing all drawing pages and especially the claims. The references in each patent my also lead you to relevant patents. Your goal here is to do a comprehensive search to discover any related invention. During this review process you will uncover additional terminology to use in a revised search. It is important to remember that revising your initial search after reviewing results will enable you to find patents that will be relevant but over looked in the initial search.
You will also want to broaden your search by using the revised search terms to search non-US patents such as Espacenet or Patent Lens
Provided through WIPO, the International Patent Classification (IPC), is made up of a hierarchical system of language that utilizes independent symbols for the classification of patents and utility models according to the different areas of technology they pertain too.