Free Patents Online - Looking for a fast, free, search engine with fairly advanced capabilities to search for a patent?
Here is an effective low cost option making use of a free patent search engine.
Patent Number Search - or Advanced Search
I have commented in other posts or articles that if you need to search for a patent as one of your steps for getting a patent you need to realize that your best bet might be to farm that out to someone who does that for a living simply because you can get a good search for a reasonable price and your time may be more valuable than the investment required.
That does not mean you should never do patent searches. I have always felt that spending a little time reviewing patents is a very useful talent. Patents are a great source of good ideas. They also can quickly bring you up to speed on technologies and markets.
So that brings up the question of which search engine to use. Different people will have different favorites. I mentioned that I often use Delphion because of its rich suite of search capabilities and the ability to save searches and output the results in a useful format for my clients.
But I do this for a living and can justify the monthly cost of being Delphion subscriber.
What is the next best thing?
You might want to consider Free Patents Online. This service is relatively new but is gradually developing a more sophisticated suite of search capabilities. For most people this engine will fill all your needs. And if they keep improving they will give Delphion a run for their money.
And it is free - so far. If you decide to use it sign up (Create an Account) this gets you access to all of the site power.
Free Patents Online uses a patent number search approach somewhat like the US Patent Office approach. But it leaves that engine behind pretty quickly.
For starters you can search the USPTO database (issued and published applications), but also the European Patent Office, Japanese Patent Office Abstracts and WIPO (PCT) publications.
You can do a Quick Search or and Advanced Search. And both are quite intuitive once you have done a few.
Quick search lists the most common search fields. You can search for a word or a simple phrase or patent number search in any of the listed fields. You can search in more than one field at a time. You can also use wildcards to enhance your searches in quick search. Boolean operators and nesting are not allowed in quick search. Quick search also has additional features like word stemming, sort order and date range to further enhance your search. In both quick search and expert search, the collection searched is defaulted to US patents. To change the collection searched, just select the required collection from the collection options provided.
Advanced search in Free Patents Online helps you create complex queries to search multiple fields using field abbreviations. You can also include boolean operators, nesting and wildcards in your expert search query. To add value to your searches, Free Patents Online incorporates proximity searching and search term weighting features in expert search. Word stemming, sort order and date range options are available to further enhance your search. And you can do any of this on any of the collections mentioned before (US, Japan, WIPO, EPO).
Saved Searches are meant to help you easily run frequently used searches. Saved searches save your quick and expert search queries so that they can be used afterwards - it saves you the trouble of remembering and re-entering the query. You can run a saved search at a later date to check for new additions to the search results.
Saved searches also serve as the basis for setting alerts, to notify you when new documents of interest are published.
Saved searches allow you to:
* Run a search at a later date to check for additional search results
* Retrieve the query of a saved search to modify/refine your search further, at a later time
* Set alerts to notify you when new documents are added to your search result
Free Patents Online also give you a limited portfolio tool. Portfolios complement saved searches. While saved searches allow you to save your queries and run them to view the results, portfolios help you to save your results list or save selected documents from the result list.
A portfolio helps you to
* Add comments in portfolios.
* Add or remove any documents to any of the workfiles at any time.
* Share selected portfolios with other account holders.
This is one of the most useful tools. You can export data from selected documents or a maximum of 250 documents to an excel spreadsheet.
Data in the fields Document Number, Document Type, Publication Date, Title, Abstract, Inventor Name, Assignee, Application Number, Filing Date, and US Classes (only for US documents) will be exported into the Excel sheet.
Free PDF Capability
Account holders can download (for free) excellent PDF versions of patents and applications. I especially like that they are in a compressed PDF format that seems to be smaller than those I get from Delphion.
All in all - a powerful and very fast patent number search engine with a lot of useful features. And I have not described them all. You can search through their site for good tutorials on how to use all of the features. In fact their tutorial on patent searching strategies is very well done.
Free Patents Online
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Mike Ervin - Cost Effective Small Business Patent Protection.
If you have any questions on on this site - please feel free to contact me.