• last updated : 02 September, 2023

How to do a Patent Search?

Category: Blog
how to do patent search

A prior art search or patent search is performed to identify prior art for an invention. A patentability study determines the novel and non-obvious elements of an invention based on its prior art. The prior art search is an important first step in the patent process. Professional patent practitioner assistance is strongly advised when determining whether an invention is novel and non-obvious. 

How to do a Patent Search?  It all comes down to basic research 

A basic patent search (prior art search) involves looking through various data sources. It is to determine whether there is prior art that reveals your invention. Prior art includes patent applications, existing patents, and non-patent literature. It can be found all over the world. Any existing disclosures that show or describe the invention are considered prior art. However, there could also be similar things. Prior art is anything that explains how to make and use an invention. 

To be precise, a prior art search is research conducted in order to discover an existing disclosure of your invention. This is significant because due a previously disclosed invention, your invention is no longer novel. As a result of the invention not being novel, the invention is not patentable. Henceforth, if the invention has already been disclosed, no patent will be granted or issued. 

Everything You Need to Conduct a Patent Search 

There are three basic types of input for search engines: You will need the following three items to complete this: 

  • A fantastic description of the invention 
  • A list of invention-related keywords 
  • The invention’s classification 

An Excellent Description of the Invention 

The description of the invention is where to begin when learning how to do a patent search. A simple sentence or two describing the invention is the easiest to work with. A brief description is preferable. This is because all you’ll need to search databases is a few keywords and the appropriate classification(s). When searching, look for existing methods and products that seem to be similar to the invention. 

A List of Invention-Related Keywords 

The explanation is used to create an effective set of keywords when considering how to do a patent search. Then there are the keywords, which are the words used for database searching. The strongest keywords to use are those words and phrases about the invention and its field of application that accurately and completely describe it. A good, clear, and precise description is easier and simpler to use when searching than a long, explanatory one. Furthermore, the concise description most likely already contains the majority of the keywords required to begin and complete a search. Furthermore, using too many synonyms can be perplexing. 

A Classification of Inventions 

The classification search is the final step in determining how to conduct a patent search. You must conduct a classification search. In other words, you must search for the various classifications into which the invention is likely to be classified. The CPC Scheme is the classification system to be used (CPC website). CPC stands for Cooperative Patent Classification. The CPC, like all classification systems, classifies inventions. The idea is that all other inventions that are similar to an invention will be classified as such. As a result, searching the likely classes is critical to a successful patent search. 

Note: If you don’t understand or can’t find the class(es) for your invention, the class(es) of similar patents found while searching is a good place to start. First, look for similar prior art. Then, use that classification to guide your new invention. 

A lot of database searching is involved in how to do a patent search. The data sources listed below are a good starting point for your search. The more locations are searched, the more comprehensive the search becomes. However, the sources listed below will give you a good start and, more than likely, more prior art than you expected. These databases represent the bare minimum of places to search for a good basic search. There are firms that specialize in patent searches. 

Databases of Patent Documents 

1. USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) 

The USPTO developed Public Patent Search to provide the public with access to the search tools used by examiners through a single online platform. 

2. EPO (European Patent Office)

Espacenet has excellent language translations and is highly recommended for those beginning PCT applications. 

3. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) 

WIPO’s PatentScope is highly recommended as it comes with excellent language translations. 

4. Google Patents 

Google Patents is an excellent resource for finding patent documents. You can also use the Google Patents database to look for Google Scholar documents. 


XLSCOUT, an AI based search and analytics tool that enables users to access Patent, and Non-Patent literature all at one place.  The tool offers a variety of tech driven solutions that make the patent searches and other IP workflows more efficient. These can be easily integrated with existing systems to further streamline the processes. 

A Database of Academic Documents 

When learning how to do a patent search and looking for documents related to your invention, don’t forget to look for scholarly and academic documents as well. The Google Scholar database contains academic documents. 

A Search Engine on the Internet 

Furthermore, when searching, it is critical to broadly search the internet. In other words, a prior art search involves regular search engine searches as well. 

Keyword Research on the Internet 

The first step in conducting a patent search is to conduct a keyword search on the internet. Conduct an internet search using the phrases and keywords that describe the characteristics and functions of the invention. There are numerous internet search engines, but they are not all created equal. Using a non-tracking open search engine is both safer and much more repeatable than using one that tracks. Beginning with an open internet search is simpler and frequently provides additional keywords and phrases related to the invention’s claims, features, or functions. 

Begin with as few keywords as possible and gradually add more until you find something similar. You are looking for anything similar to the invention to see if it has already been created. Make copies of any pertinent findings. If the findings do not have downloadable content, print the screen or the page to a pdf file. The collection of things you save is the prior art for the invention. 

Patent Keyword Search  

The second step in how to do a patent search is patent keyword search. You can search a worldwide patent and patent application database using the key phrases and keywords that describe the characteristics and functions of the invention.

There are several patent databases available. But we recommend XLSCOUT.

XLSCOUT is an AI-based search and analytics tool that enables users to access patent and non-patent literature all in one place. The tool offers a variety of tech-driven solutions that make patent searches and other IP workflows more efficient. These can be easily integrated with existing systems to further streamline the processes.

XLSCOUT covers it all and brings to you the functionality and a host of features with ease of use. The platform works on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies and offers 10x faster speed. A cloud-based environment with a limitless repository enables secure and remote access to all the patent and non-patent data in one stop. 

Patent Classification Search  

The third step in conducting a patent search is conducting a classification search. If you know the classification, look for documents in that class in a worldwide patent and patent application database. You can use the classification(s) from any comparable prior art, if you are unsure about which classification to use. If prior art is not acceptable, you can look for the appropriate class using the USPTO’s Classification Resources. In the classification text search box, enter your best keywords and study the options for the appropriate class for the invention. Once you’ve determined the classification, search a global patent and patent application database for records in that category.  Similar to the second step, save anything similar that you probably have found as both the actual document and a translation to make sure you have the figures to review. 

Examine Related Patent Classes 

Professional Assistance Is Highly Recommended 

The US has specific requirements for disclosing prior art. Knowing how to conduct a patent search is only one step in the patenting process. Keeping track of and ensuring the submission of relevant prior art can be difficult, whether it is a patent, patent application, or other disclosure that may be relevant. For example, a previous disclosure by the same inventor may be excused in certain circumstances, or it may be prior art to the invention itself. In other cases, an application filed earlier but published later than yours may be cited in opposition to yours. 

Patent search is difficult-take help from experts 

Prior art searches and patentability determinations are time-consuming and complex tasks that should be handled by a patentability expert (patent attorney, patent agent, or consulting firm). Furthermore, in an exhaustive search, all patents, patent applications, and non-patent literature from all over the world must be examined and considered. Searching in other relevant areas is part of an exhaustive search. Other related terms are areas with potential use or associated technology that may be applicable when considering how to do a patent search. 

How can Artificial Intelligence Help? 

XLSCOUT put the use of reinforcement learning to its AI-based Novelty Checker tool to get quality prior art search reports in just 10 minutes. The Novelty Checker uses reinforcement learning to filter the noise from the prior art by pulling up the relevant results on top of the list. To be precise, it assists in conducting a novelty search to help you ensure that your innovation is unique. By selecting a few relevant and non-relevant results, users can apply reinforcement learning to the result set. The system takes the user’s feedback and then learns from it. Then it re-ranks the results by bringing the quality results to the top and sending the noise to the bottom. 

Without reinforcement learning, users go through hundreds of results manually. By applying reinforcement learning, users can skip going through the non-relevant results. Users can apply reinforcement multiple times to a result set according to their different requirements/ criteria. They can then view the Top-10 or Top-20 results for each criterion to perform an analysis for idea validation. 

Users can quickly generate an automated novelty and patentability search report by selecting these Top-10 or 20 results. Search reports from Novelty Checker include a good list of results. In addition, key features of the invention are mapped with relevant text to facilitate quick decision making. 


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