Everything about Patent Search Online

Before applying for a patent, the patent application needs a quality prior art search. Proper and elaborated patent searches can be performed from historic patents (previously filed applications) like published research journal papers and publication or commercial products. It is a crucial step of patent drafting wherein the inventor compares the invention with the closest work done in the area and highlights all the published patents' deficiencies. The relevancy in search results will decide whether to proceed with the invention or not.


The applicant should ideally conduct a preliminary search before filing a patent application so that he can confirm at his end whether an application for the same invention ( or a similar invention) was made previously. The search can save time and provide the applicant with pointers for drafting his own application. To conduct a patent search, an applicant may do a physical search at the Patent Office or do it online. 

What are the kinds of Indian patent searches?

Patenting an invention requires a lot of time and money. Therefore, it is crucial to scrutinize the invention before filing a patent application. The patent searches are of the following types:- 

1. Novelty search 

It is the most crucial quest for an inventor before filing any patent application. It can prevent wastage of a tremendous amount of time, money, and resources if done in time. This search helps the inventor decide whether to proceed with the invention or not. The search domain contains published patents, research papers, journals, and commercial items. The search domain includes three essential patentability criteria, i.e., novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. Searching for information regarding non - obviousness and utility of the invention also helps narrow down the possibility of the rejection of the patent. 

Benefits of novelty search:

  • A better understanding of the loophole of the invention 
  • Improvement of patent quality 
  • Drafting better claims 
  • To search for similar patents

2. State of the art (SOTA) search 

It is the most simple search performed to gather all the background information regarding the current status of technology in the respective fields of invention. The sole purpose of this search is to gather maximum information in the relevant subject area. It helps the inventor identify the technology level in the relevant art and gauge its scope. State of the art gives a complete picture of the relevant technical field to determine the direction of research and is, therefore, essential for the R & D initiative. It usually includes searches from conventional literature like research articles, thesis, press releases, etc.  

3. Freedom to operate search (FTO) 

It is one of the costliest searches of all the patent searches. As the name suggests, 'freedom to operate' means freedom to commercialize the patented invention. Once a patent is granted, the inventor receives full ownership over the invention and expects that she/he will commercialize the product. FTO searches help a lot in avoiding any future legal suits. 

4. Patent invalidity search 

Such kinds of searches are mostly done to avoid the future invalidity of an enforced patent. Sometimes, a third party can question the existence of the patent grant based on the novelty or obviousness of the subject matter. TO deal with any unfavorable situations in the future, inventors use invalidity searches. 

5. Commercial status search 

Depending upon the commercial availability of the technology, search results motivate the inventor for patent filing. Similar to the SOTA searches that reflect the research and development division of the technology, commercial status (technology activity) searches explore the existing inventors, organization, and current technologies. 

What to search or name of patent search?

Prior art searches are an excellent method to extract information regarding developments in the field of relevant art. The information can be retrieved from offline and online data centers. Offline searching consists of public patent libraries that could provide references for published patents. Selecting different operators with different fields and keywords helps the recipient retrieve more relevant patents with the exact required information.

Below mentioned are a few searching engine terms to simplify the prior art search:

1. Keywords 

To conduct a quality search for a patent application, all the required relevant keywords should be listed out after a thorough study of all aspects of the patent. The seeker must understand the invention's features, process, and product thereof. The factors taken into consideration before conducting a prior art search are mentioned below:

  • Keywords search -It includes all the relevant terms from the title, abstract, and specification of the patent.
  • Synonyms of keyword - Using just the keywords may lead to skipping a few crucial patents that may have different keywords as another inventor might have used some other term to express his idea or a more technical term in the relevant art patent.
  • Root word search (stemming)- Deriving the number of keywords from the root word provides maximum coverage of results to the seeker. 

2. Fields 

Different fields could be used to narrow down the results towards more relevant art. It helps the seeker to save time and money and gives a better understanding of his field of interest. Mentioned below are a few fields :

  • Title;
  • Abstract;
  • Application number;
  • Patent assignee country;
  • Description;
  • Applicants name, country, and address;
  • Inventor name, country, and address;
  • IPC Classification system;
  • PCT application and publication number.

3. Operators

They are the logical commands for searching by positioning keywords at the proper place. Types of operators used in Indian patent search are as follows:

  • Logical operators- Used for keywords
  • Proximity operators - Used for root words

Where to search or Indian Patent data-centers?

Different online data centers are available to retrieve patent search results, including national and international databases. Most patents are open to the public, but few have restricted access to patent authority only. 

1. National Database

The national database for patent search is in PASS, i.e., the Indian patent advanced search system. The seeker can also search the patent by the Quick Company database. This portal serves the applicant with the registration and application status of the patent. 

2. International Database

Online patent search databases are available to help the inventor explore the published or granted patents of their relevant fields of interest. Different international organizations use these databases in search portals to index and share their patents. Few online databases are:

USPTO - United States Patent and Trademark Office
WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization
EPO - European Patent Office
Google Patents 

How to search Patents online?

The following steps to be followed for searching for an Indian patent:- 

  • Formation of search queries
  • The aid of field and operators
  • Reviewing and sorting of results
  • Repeat for perfection 
For more information, kindly check our website also, for patent searching, check our patent database

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