The huge amount of patent documents in patent databases is a valuable asset for enhancing technical knowledge that helps innovators, technicians, and intellectual property offices to achieve their goals. However, this vast information requires efficient search platforms searching relevant documents that can respond to user requirements as quickly as possible. To meet this need, an extensive set of patent databases and information platforms has been developed, either by patent offices, relating international organizations, as well as small and large private companies. One of the most popular patent databases is Google Patents.
Google Patents is a unique search engine from Google that indexes patents and patent applications. Google Patents is a free tool that allows users to search the complete texts of patents from all across the globe.
Google Patents was launched in 2006 based on a specific technology used for Google Books which improves text detection in USPTO patent documents. The technology makes it easier to search through long and complex patent documents.
This global search engine allows users to submit patent documents to 105 patent offices worldwide, in the form of abstracts, claims, library information (especially key dates), and the full text of patent documents. This database also gathered documents from US Patents and Trademarks, European Patent Office, and Wipe’s PCT applications.
To better understand the inclusiveness of Google Patents and the considerable volume of patent documents available on this search engine, consider that until 2020 December 15 there are over 120 million patents available on this site. From this number, only about 6 million applications (since 2001) and 12 million patents (since 1790) are from the United States. There are about 12 million applications (since 1985) and 18 million patents (since 1990) available from China in this database. This huge volume of patent documents well demonstrates the wide range of data on this free platform.
In addition to being freely available and covering a wide range of patent documents from different countries, there are other unique features for Google Patents; Many of the scientific documents listed in Google Scholar and Google Books that form non-patent literature and necessary to evaluate prior knowledge, are also be searched in the Google Patent Database alongside patent documents. The availability of this non-patent literature on a single platform is an innovative way to facilitate the search for prior knowledge and is a potential advantage for Google Patents.
In addition, innovative tools such as "Prior Art Finder" and "Prior Art Archive" help users to explore and evaluate the novelty of a technological idea in more depth and with access to multiple sources. Prior Art Finder automatically scans the web, Google Patents, Google Scholar, and Google Books for key phrases from a patent’s text and helps searchers find documents related to inquiry and check for novelty through a variety of relevant sources. On the other hand, the Prior Art Archive, which includes old product guides and announcements from tech companies around the world, indexes these valuable documents in Google Patent through fully automated classification and helps users from a whole new angle. Take a deeper look at their prior knowledge and technological assessments.
How to search in "Google Patents"?
Google patent search is very similar to search in the Google search engine; The easiest way to access a specific patent is to try to find the patent number (published application number or certificate number). Moreover, you can enter the phrase you want and view the search results. You can also enter a more detailed expression by entering the advanced search section. The advance search works based on various parameters such as the name of the patent owner (for example, Google), the name of the inventor (for example, Thomas Edison), and the time period (for example, since 2001 onwards).
Another feature of Google Patents for easier search of patent documents is the ability to filter resulted by restricting the result based on “patent office", "patent language", "application status", "patent type" and even "related legal litigations".
- Filtering the results based on the patent option gives the user, various national and international offices (such as WIPO or the European Patent Office) to search in their relating documents
- Concerning the language of documents, 16 options have been proposed by Google Patents, including English, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, and ….
- “Status of a document” means determining the status of a document in its proceeding way; this is divided into two groups: patent application and patent certificate;
- In the “types of document” section, two options of patents and designs can be selected; design patent and utility or non-provisional patents
- The “Related litigation” option may be attractive to those users who follow litigations and wish to have more information about the value of the patents.
If the "Include Non-Patent Literature" option is selected by the user, the final search output will include a list of related patent documents as well as content results in Google Scholar.
There are options to Prioritized the search results based on the degree of affinity and proximity to the searched parameters as well as the newest or oldest documents.
Another interesting point in Google patent search is presenting a short analysis based on the top applicants, top inventors, and CPC classification of search patents, which were found based on the query. This analysis can be found at the bottom of the search result.
It should be noted that, like other patent search platforms, the use of Boolean operators, and in particular the "AND" and "OR" operators, can help users more accurately search for their required patents. In addition to these tools, you can use some abbreviations to search for specific parts of the patent. For example, "TI" indicates a search for patent titles, "AB" indicates a search for a patent summary, "CL" indicates a search for patent claims, and "CPC" indicates a specific class of the standard patent classification system.