• last updated : 05 September, 2023

The Risks of Using Free Patent Search Tools

Category: Blog
free patent search tools

Free patent search tools can cost you in the long run, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of time and risk. A study published in the World Patent Information Journal (Volume 52) by Jürgen and Clarke compared several free patent search tools and discovered limitations such as the inability to save and share searches, missing data, and constrained or no statistical analysis. We have discovered some common issues that innovators face when using free tools.

Missing Data

Free tools frequently have missing data, which can impair the accuracy of your research. Because these tools take time to update their databases, you may miss a critical patent. This could cost you your entire project and land you in legal trouble.

For example, you might overlook a patent that is part of a larger family. Although INPADOC enables you to view patent families and continuations, it can take some time to link a patent to the priority document because patent office naming conventions differ. XLSCOUT‘s extended family view, on the other hand, uses machine learning algorithms to clean and normalize patent data so you can easily access all the patents linked to a priority document.

Because databases aren’t updated quickly enough, recently published patents aren’t always accessible through free patent search tools. According to Gene Quinn, founder of IP Watchdog, free tools such as Google Patents have gaps in their databases and frequently fail to find patents that are known to exist. 

For example, at the time of writing, one of IBM’s recent patents—GB201720581D0—that we discovered on XLSCOUT was not available on Google Patents (although that may have changed by the time you read this).

If that isn’t enough to persuade you, consider Google Patent’s disclaimer about patent data coverage. The text basically says, “These totals include all patents and published applications in our index, but we cannot guarantee complete coverage”—even Google admits that its data has inexplicable gaps. That is simply not good enough (or should not be) in the high-stakes world of R&D and intellectual property.

They are not user-friendly for Non-IP Users

Patents are read by R&D professionals to derive meaningful technical information, but free patent search tools frequently make this task extremely difficult. That is why it is critical to use a user-friendly patent search tool that encourages collaboration among IP and non-IP professionals. 

XLSCOUT’s patent analytics tools are useful for R&D professionals seeking strategic insight to support their innovation strategy.

Some of XLSCOUT’s R&D clients use patent landscapes to identify whitespaces in their industries and validate new project ideas. For example, consider a landscape of pending patents relating to artificial intelligence. You could utilize this patent landscape to determine where you ought to innovate by identifying the areas that have the greatest opportunity for technological expansion.

There is far too much Junk in the Search Results

Although free tools offer a large number of patents, it is difficult to filter out irrelevant results. You could spend days sifting through a list of patents when developing a better tool would only take a few hours. XLSCOUT can extract insight from your massive list of patents by employing powerful filters and one-click reports—for example, you can find the most claim-heavy, highly valued, or cited patents with a single mouse click. This way, you can get the most out of your patent search in a short period of time.

You could also create a graph that depicts emerging companies in your technology space so that you can convince senior executives to change your strategy.

Work cannot be Shared or Saved

You can’t save or share interesting findings with your colleagues after spending several hours searching for patents using free tools. This inability to share and assign tasks can be annoying and result in bottlenecks in your process. Furthermore, if your colleagues are conducting similar patent searches, you may be duplicating their efforts. 

XLSCOUT, for example, allows you to export data in a variety of formats, including Excel and PDF. You can also save your searches to workspaces, where you can organize them into folders for different projects and assign tasks to colleagues.

A free tool may appear to be a cost-cutting measure at first, but it is actually a time and productivity drain, as well as an uneasy financial gamble. Gilead Sciences paid Merck $2.5 billion in damages in one of the greatest patent infringement cases. Would you be willing to risk billions of dollars for the low cost of a patent analytics tool? 

Discover how XLSCOUT can Assist You!

XLSCOUT’s Novelty Checker provides an easy-to-use platform where one can enter their ideas and have those ideas compared and evaluated against millions of patents and research publications instantly. It assists in conducting a novelty search to help you ensure that your innovation is unique. Additionally, it also generates a professional, automated novelty search report which can be presented to the internal intellectual property department or hired attorneys in order to take ideas forward for the patenting process.

XLSCOUT engineered data with the best-in-class Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to develop the most accurate, comprehensive, and intelligent patent database. Our AI technologies are based on a glass-box approach, thus making it explainable to the users.

We believe that this transparency helps in the adoption of this new age technology giving more confidence to our users.

To know more, get in touch with us. ( Fix a meeting )