Patent Searching a good portion of the scientific knowledge, especially the technical advances, being covered by the patent literature, it become pertinent to carry out a patent search while identifying the prior-art documents related to an invention disclosure.

However, with the sheer volume of available patent information, it is almost next to impossible for someone as an individual researcher to be a subject matter expert in all technical fields of science. Each expert researcher usually has one or more tricks up his/her sleeve to locate relevant documents for an invention disclosure. This article intends to provide a general nature of a patent search, which may help researcher to develop such tricks overtime with practice and persistence.

Before beginning a patent search, one should consider the following two concepts at all times:

  • A patent search is a learning process.
  • A patent search is iterative.

Most of the researcher may agree that a patent search involves reviewing hundreds or sometimes even thousands of patent document one after another. In each review of the document, the researcher tries to assess how much each document is related to the subject matter of the invention disclosure.

Further, the researcher has to identify possible alternate embodiments of the invention which may be used to refine search methodology over the course of conducting the search. These alternative embodiments, which may not be explicitly present in the invention disclosure, may come across during the course of the search, as in while reading of the results of the search, or may be thought off by its own by the researcher.

Most of the times, any prior art search uses three general strategies for conducting a patent search, that is, a combination of classification searching, text searching, and citation searching. A proper patent search includes scoping the subject matter, scoping the classification areas to be searched, and generating initial text queries. All of these steps are important to achieving a systematic and methodical search.

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