Breathing Life into a Prior Art Search

Breathing Life into a Prior Art Search

One valuable reason for hiring a specialized search firm such as SPSG is our ability to breathe life into a search. Many times, a search scope contains terms that cross technologies and return literature that is outside the scope search even though the reference technically contains the search terms. This is why simple tools that use basic terms and generically search for documents containing those terms in any proximity and any field rarely provides the comprehensive view of prior art a client needs. To return only the most relevant prior art, the searcher must have the creativity, knowledge, and specialized tools to hone the search scope in such a way to unearth the most relevant prior art.

At SPSG, we have a variety of ways to ensure that the search returns quality prior art. For searching patents, we use an upper level search tool, PatBase. This comprehensive patent database allows for sophisticated search strings that focus on individual fields of patents, such as titles, abstracts, and claims, in addition to searching the full text of patents. By alternating searches between these fields, the searcher is capable of focusing and broadening the search more efficiently than when using a public or simplistic tool. For example, in the simplistic search for an online store, the search was limited to just the title, abstract, and claims and a proximity of 5 was used to ensure the terms was within the same sentence. More than 25,000 results were not surprisingly returned, but had we searched full text, over 90,000 results would have been returned.

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Moreover, PatBase enables highly customizable views of the search results, including abstracts, classifications, complete families, and figures, allowing for easily identifying which results to analyze more in-depth.

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In viewing the results, we are able to customize highlighting of both individual terms and also search phrases consisting of terms within proximity of other terms, so that the highlighting provides more context in the patent.

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Additionally, SPSG often uses classification for limiting search results to the most relevant groups of patents. In this vein, PatBase provides an “Optimize” feature that narrows the search based on technology even before knowing which classes are most important. This allows the searcher to reduce over a thousand results to a couple hundred manageable results in the right technology in minimal time. For example, in the online store search, 5% of results were medical or veterinary science. Therefore, the search was optimized to exclude unrelated technologies except those in the field of computing; calculating; counting, which reduced the results and eliminated many unrelated technologies.

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These techniques breathe life into a search for quicker return of more relevant patents. This efficiency provides a significant advantage to our clients through less time spent on the search and thus lower-cost searches. More importantly, SPSG provides a highly-accurate patent search by fully utilizing our search tools. For more information, please feel free to contact our offices at 626-432-7292 or email me at


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