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Patents: How to Search Patents by Subject

How to Search Patents by Subject

Write a brief but accurate description of the invention or technology. Avoid broad or generic terms such as "process" and "device". Drawing a sketch may help you identify important features. Your description should address the following questions.

  1. What is the structure of the invention?
  2. What is the function of the invention? Is it a product or a process?
  3. How is the invention used?

Note the important keywords, synonyms and equivalent terms.

Search the keywords in a patent database. Limiting your search to keywords in the title and abstract will produce better results. Video
Review the retrieved patents. Are any of them similar to your invention? Note the patent classifications assigned to these patents. If none of the patents relate to your invention, go back to Step 2 and try different keywords. Video
Search the patent classifications you identified in Step 3. Video
Review the retrieved patents. Refine your search. Video
Check the cited references in the patents you retrieved. These can lead you to additional related patents. Video

Last Updated: 18 August 2008

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