Google Patents as a Tool is a type of search engine provided by Google that indexes granted patents and published patent applications.
Google Patents is a digital library for patents created by Google. Its URL is patents.google.com.
The history of Google Patents can be traced as far back as 2006. Initially, only US patents were available for search on this platform. Back then, it utilized the same technology to index documents as Google Books.
A major update came in 2012 with the coverage of the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Prior Art Finder tool. Since then coverage of Google Patents has been extended continuously.
We have plugged in the screenshot of the Prior Art Finder Tool by Google just to make you familiar with the history of Google Patents. It doesn’t exist anymore.
Prior Art Finder would give the best results from Google Scholar, Google Patents, Google Books, and other tools of Google.
In 2015, Google Patents was launched in its current form at patents.google.com with a new avatar. Further, Google Scholar was also integrated into this new avatar of Google Patents.
Google Patents indexes documents from Google Scholar and books from Google Books using machine classification with Cooperative Patent Classifications (CPCs). This update also made Google Patents capable of clustering search results using CPCs.
Note: Apart from documents available on Google Scholar, Google Patents also indexes documents available on Google Books based on CPCs.
In 2016, major feature updates were made, bringing Google Patents, a free tool, on par with paid patent search tools.
With this update, features like Boolean search syntax (proximity, wildcards, title/abstract/claims fields) were introduced.
Moreover, to cover the landscape, the feature of visual graphs that show inventors, assignees, and CPCs by date was launched. This update also provided a thumbnail grid view of search results and downloadable results sets in CSV format.
In 2018, Google Patents introduced a feature that provides global litigation information. It shows any litigation history of the patent or its family members anywhere in the world. Moreover, it also provides a link to the Darts-IP patent case database, where you can access information about the litigation in more detail.
In short, it has turned out to be a wonderful tool for free and quick searches. Over the period of time, it is only going to improve from here. So, why not master it. Let’s start.
What is the coverage of Google Patents and what does it show?
US patent documents included by Google Patents in search results date back to 1790. Similarly, EPO and WIPO results included by Google Patents date back to 1978. In this regard, you should know that EPO came into existence in 1977. As of now, its coverage spans more than 100 patent offices in more than 16 languages, Google Scholar documents, and Google Books.
US patent documents dating back to 1790 have been made searchable using optical character recognition (OCR).
All non-English patents have undergone translation using the Google Translate tool so that their English translations can be searched using English keywords.
With time, Google Patents has expanded its coverage to many patent offices worldwide. You can see the real-time number of documents that are included from each patent office by clicking on this link.
At the time of writing this article, we retrieved the following data, as shown in the image below, from the said link:
Google Patents’ coverage includes a copy of documents indexed by Google Scholar and Google Books. Further, to make them searchable easily, those documents have been classified using CPCs.
So, when we talk about the coverage of documents, i.e., patent and non-patent literature, by Google Patents, we’ll have to consider the coverage of Google Scholar and Google Books.
We have written a complete guide to searching patents using Google Scholar. You may want to go through this article to have a complete understanding of searching using tools offered by Google Scholar.
How To Conduct Search Using Google Patent
When you first visit the Google Patents homepage, which is patents.google.com, you encounter the following page, as shown in the image below:
Let’s look at the marked numbers in the image. What do they mean?
Button 1 is for ‘Include patents’,
button 2 is for ‘Include non-patent literature’,
button 3 is for ‘Include non-patent literature (Google Scholar)’, and
button 4 is for ‘Advanced Search’.
Here, buttons 2 and 3 have similar functions. Both of these buttons produce documents indexed by Google Patents from the Google Scholar database.
Note: Google Scholar covers the database of Google Books as well, therefore, including Google Scholar button also indirectly includes Google Books.
Simple Google Patents Search lets you search for patents using keywords. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to just keywords. The Google Patents tool is much more than a simple keyword search. So let’s move on to advanced search.
Advanced Search Result Page of Google Patents
To understand advanced search, we have marked numbers on the advanced search page. We have searched for the keyword ‘test’ for the purpose of taking the image of the search page as shown below.
|Box No.||What does the boxed No. indicates?|
|1.||Enter new keywords and their synonyms for search.|
|2.||Various search fields: 3, 4, 5, and 6 for restricting the search. |
See the search using metadata.
|3.||Restrict the search by entering one of the priority date, filing date, |
or publication date.
|4.||Enter the name of the specific inventor to retrieve his/ her work in |
form of patents and articles.
Enter multiple inventors by clicking on the field “+inventor”.
It also gives autocomplete suggestions where you can type a few letters
to get full names in suggestions.
Once you select the right name, the search will automatically get updated
otherwise you can click away.
|5.||Enter the name of the owner or assignee of the patent. It may a company, |
individual, organization, etc.
Enter multiple assignees by clicking on the field “+assignee”.
It has autocomplete suggestion ability also.
|6.||Select documents from more than 100 patent offices, |
Select documents in more than 16 languages,
Select between the patent application and granted patents,
Select between patent documents and design documents,
Select patents which have related known litigation and no known litigation.
Note: Google Patent keeps expanding its coverage of documents from
offices to languages.
|7.||Enter the search string, |
Select to include non-patent literature from Google Scholar,
Enter search terms, and publication numbers directly.
|8.||This is more of a landscape report in short. The top 1000 results are used |
for the graphs shown.
Click on the Assignees, Inventors, and CPCs tabs to know about top
assignees, top inventors, and top CPCs.
|9.||Download the results in CSV format, in CSV format with concepts, in XLSX|
format, in SPIF format.
Access side-by-side view on an extended or widescreen. On a smaller
screen, you will find the graphs below the search results and not on the
right side as shown in 8.
|10.||See the number of results of a search query. These numbers are |
approximate and may vary even for the same query.
Can sort the results based on Relevance, Newest and Oldest categories.
Can group results by classification. This way you can access all the
results of one class in one place.
Deduplicate the search results either by family or publication. A patent
can have multiple similar family members and multiple similar
publications. This option allows you to select one of them by removing
other duplicates from returned search results.
Select to show 10 or 25 or 50 or 100 results on one page.
|11.||Shows the search results|
|12.||Expand the list of assignees, inventors, or CPCs to get more clarity |
about the landscape
|13.||Click on the hyperlink to see the documents of a particular assignee |
in search results. Once you click on the assignee hyperlink, the name
of the assignee will appear in the assignee box 5 on the left.
|14.||Some country codes are bold and some are strikethrough. Why? Read on.|
To understand this, first, note that the results shown on the result page are
the high-ranking patent publications from the same simple patent family.
A simple patent family is made up of all the patents that have the same
set of priority claims. A simple patent family is formed when patents
sharing priority claims are filed in more than one country.
Box 14 shows the list of the countries where the respective simple
patent family is filed in. We have already seen that the results shown are
the best-scoring or the highest-ranking patent publication in that
simple patent family.
The bold country code means the simple patent family has at least
one active application in that country.
Strikethrough country code means those applications are unknown
to Google Patents.
After the list of country codes, you have the publication number which
has direct hyperlink to the document pdf, first inventor, and the
|15.||Box 15 refers to the priority date, filing date of the publication shown |
in the result, status whether the patent is granted, and the publication date.
If the status of the result is “not granted” then the granted date is
Group by Classification
Normally, algorithm of Google Patents groups results to find the best cooperative patent classification (CPC) codes to narrow down the scope of your search.
Although CPCs are very precise and thus helpful in narrowing down the search, it can be a time-intensive task even for an algorithm to find the right CPC code. This is important, especially when we are doing a quick search. So, what does the Google Patent Algorithm do?
As we have already seen, results are grouped based on CPCs by the algorithm, and the choice is left to us to consider a few of the best CPC codes. Look at the image below for more clarity.
When you select the option “Group by Classification,” as shown in the image below, the algorithm quickly looks for groups of results based on the best CPCs.
Further, the algorithm offers to search within that classification if we find any of the fetched CPC groups are suitable.
Search Using Google Patents
Before we take up an example to explain search, let’s first look at the search operators that Google Patents offers us to make the search quick, smooth, and more meaningful.
Google Patents automatically includes plurals and synonyms of keywords.
There is no special syntax required for CPCs; you can enter CPCs in the search box similarly to how you would enter keywords.
E.g., (smart bluetooth) OR H04W76/10
It is the default operator between two search terms. It has left associativity, meaning that it associates everything left to it with the term that follows it.
E.g., smart OR bluetooth headset means (smart OR bluetooth) AND headset.
Default AND between two keywords such as (smart bluetooth) takes both keywords as phrase for the purpose of generating synonyms.
When two search query inputs are ORed together, then it looks for either one or both in search results.
E.g., (Headset OR Beacon) will return the documents which have either Headset, Beacon, or both. Similarly, you can “OR” a CPC with another CPC or keyword.
NEAR, NEARx, NEAR/x, /xw
Proximity operators mainly change the rankings of the results, not the overall retrieval of the results.
These operators mean that matches are at maximum x words away, in any order in results.
e.g., (smart NEAR5 Bluetooth) simply means that the words “smart” and “bluetooth” are at most 5 words away from each other, in any order, in the results.
The matches are 20 words away, in any order.
e.g., (smart WITH Bluetooth) means that the words “smart” and “Bluetooth” are within 20 words of each other, in any order, in search results.
The matches are within 200 words of each other, in any order.
e.g., (headset OR beacon) SAME wearable
The above query gives results that have words wearable within the distance of 200 words from the headset or beacon.
SAME considers the word or phrase before it along with the word or phrase to the right of it. It doesn’t consider the whole of the string to the left or to the right.
E.g. (safety ADJ/5 belt) OR (baby child) SAME vehicle is similar to (safety ADJ/5 belt) OR ((baby child) SAME vehicle) and not similar to ((safety ADJ/5 belt) OR (baby child)) SAME vehicle
Note: To avoid any confusion, it is advisable to use brackets to specify your matching preferences using operators.
AJD, AJDx, AJD/x, +xw
These operators are the same as NEAR except that the matches should be in order.
e.g., (smart ADJ/3 bluetooth) NEAR/10 (headset OR beacon)
The above search string returns results where:
- smart is ahead of bluetooth by a maximum of 3 words, and
- headset or beacon is within 10 words of distance from the above combination of smart and bluetooth.
Although Google Patents automatically looks for plurals and closest synonyms, it has provided wildcards to specify patterns for search.
|?||Zero or one character|
|* or $||Zero or more characters|
|$x||Zero to x characters|
|#||Exactly one character|
|–||NOT Removes the word immediately |
after it from Search Results
e.g. query ((bluetooth)-beacon) will
exclude results where the word beacon
|” “||Searches exact phrase inside quotes|
The wildcard applies to one English keyword only. Once the wildcard pattern is specified on an English word, the top 25 most common matches are ORed together.
Although wildcard patterns work on a single word, you can specify multiple wildcard symbols per single word.
e.g., meta?vers* and hydroxy*chlorid#
A patent or non-patent document has several fields or parts. It may have a title, an abstract, a description, one or more claims, or a classification, i.e., CPCs. You can search inside these fields by specifying their field names which are TI, AB, CL, and CPC respectively.
e.g., TI=(smart bluetooth)
e.g., AB=(smart bluetooth)
e.g., CL=(smart bluetooth)
It will match with exact CPC.
1. The “low” operator in CPC=H04W76/low will find documents that contain this CPC or a child class of this CPC.
2. You can directly use the CPCs in the search box without specifying a field name or without using syntax similar to that of keywords.
e.g., (smart NEAR/3 bluetooth) H04W76/10
Search Using Metadata
You can either directly write search strings in the search box (see box 7 in Fig. 4) using the syntax of field names as shown below in examples or select options in search fields given in boxes 3, 4, 5, and 6 of Fig. 4 without having to worry about syntax.
Search fields are usually accessible from the left side of the advanced search page.
If the screen resolutions are lower, you will find them at the top of the page.
|Search by inventor |
(See box 4 in fig. 4)
|Example 1- inventor: Einstein|
Example 2- inventor:”Thomas Alva Edison”
|Search by assignee|
(See box 5 in fig. 4)
|Example 1- assignee:Microsoft|
Example 2- assigne:”Microsoft Inc”
|Search before and after filing|
date (See box 3 in fig. 4)
You can do the same for
priority date, publication
|Example 1- before:filing:2005|
Example 2- after:filing:”Jan 2005″
Example 3- before:filing:”1/2/2005″
Example 4- before:filing:20050102
Example 5- after:filing:2005-01-02
Use priority or publication for search using priority
date or publication date respectively.
Example 6- after:publication:2010
|Search patents by country|
(refer box 6 of fig. 4)
|Search patents by status|
(refer box 6 of fig. 4)
|Example 1- status:grant|
Example 2- status:application
|Search patents by language|
(refer box 6 of fig. 4)
Search Directly By Patent OR Application Number
Google Patents also provides the facility to directly enter patent or application numbers in its search box.
The best part of it is that you don’t have to remember or enter country codes or kind codes. Just enter the number, and it will give you a drop-down menu of the list of matches. So, you can easily identify your desired document and select it from the drop-down menu.
e.g., any of the following entered numbers is sufficient to take you to the intended patent document.
US 9,014,956 B2
- US 14/166,501
Note: US is country code. B2 is a kind code. 9014956 is a granted US patent number. 14/166,501 is a number of priority application in USA.
View Patent Document In Google Patents
|1||Go to Google Patents Home page for a new search.|
|2||Search Box where you can enter and edit the search string.|
|3||Go to previous or next search result.|
|4||Go back to search result page.|
|5||Click on pen button to edit the search string.|
|6||Title of the patent.|
|7||Abstract of the patent.|
|8||Keywords used in the search string are highlighted in the result specification.|
|9||a) Click on the images to open them on the half-right screen|
b) Press key
|10||a) Click ‘view more classifications‘ to see CPCs. |
b) Hover the cursor over the CPC to see its definition in pop-up screen. Remove the
cursor from CPC to remove the pop-up screen of the definition.
c) Click on the CPC text without hyperlink to see its definition in a pop-up screen.
This way pop-up screen will stay and you don’t need to keep the cursor over CPC
all the time.
Click again on the CPC text without hyperlink to remove the pop-screen.
d) Click on the CPC hyperlink to see documents that have been classified under that CPC.
|11||Rotate the displayed image anticlockwise.|
Keypad shortcut: press S
|12||Rotate the displayed image clockwise.|
Keypad shortcut: press W
|13||Go to previous image.|
Keypad shortcut: press A
|14||Go to next image.|
Keypad shortcut: press D
|15||Enlarge the image viewing panel to full screen.|
|16||Open the image in a new tab.|
|17||Close image-viewing panel.|
|18||Zoom in, and zoom out the image.|
|19||Select an image from the group of images.|
|1||Patent or application publication number|
|2||Click to download and open pdf in a new tab|
|3||Click to find prior art for this displayed patent or patent application.|
You will be taken to the google patent advanced search page.
|4||Click to find similar documents. |
Generally to find similar molecules in chemistry or similar documents to patents operator ~ is used.
E.g., In case of the patent US7233808B2 shown in the image, Σ is equivalent to the search string (~patent/US7233808B2)
|5||Tells about Inventors and Current Assignee|
|6||List of family members for countries under the coverage of Google Patent.|
Hyperlink assigned to the country code directly takes to the family member of the patent in that country.
|7||Tells the timeline of key events for this patent application including priority claims, publications, legal status, reassignments, and litigation.|
Click ‘Show all events’ to find all the listed events.
However, Google Patent maintains that it takes no responsibility for the accuracy & completeness of the events listed.
a) citations to this patent,
b) the document which cited this patent,
c) similar documents which are based on text similarity, and
d) related applications.
|9||Find out the entire history of this patent and patent application from USPTO Patent Public Search, USPTO Patent Center, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet, Global Dossier, and discuss at the patent stack exchange.|
We have seen everything that Google Patent offers as a tool. Now, is the right time to put that toolkit into practice.
For example, the query:
AB=((((smart OR intelligent) ADJ bluetooth) SAME (gate$3 NEAR5 inter?face))-wifi) before:publication:2020
We used the boolean operator OR; proximity operators ADJ, SAME, NEARx; metadata before:publication:date; and wildcards $x, -, ? in this query.
Furthermore, by clicking on the Scholar icon in the search box, we have enabled the search on Google Scholar to include non-patent-literature documents.
The search result page for the query we get is as below:
This way, whatever we have learned in this guide, you can put into practice to hone your skills to use a free tool like Google Patents to your advantage.
We have written many articles that may interest you. In particular, after having read this article, we’d recommend you go through Google Scholar: ultimate guide to search to improve your overall search skills.