Simplified Patent Search

February 24, 2014

Finally, there are easier ways to find out whether your great idea has already been patented by an earlier-rising birdie. GCN reveals two new tools in, “Patent Search Engines Aim to Open Innovations to the World.”

The Lens is an open search engine created specifically for hunting down patent information, created by Richard Jefferson of the Queensland University of Technology. The Lens crawls through about 100 million documents in 90 countries, and its creator hopes it will help level the innovation playing field. Interestingly, Jefferson traces his lineage directly to Thomas Jefferson, who started the U.S. patent system in the first place. Perhaps that is why Richard Jefferson seeks to rectify the “dire straits” he feels that system is now in: being gamed by companies “incredibly skilled in hiding the ball in intentionally opaque patents.” The article tells us:

“The Lens already hosts several tools for analysis and exploration of the patent literature, including graphical representations of search results to advanced bioinformatics tools. In 2014 developers will be working to create forms of the Lens that can allow all annotations, commentary and sharing to be behind firewalls for those who need it, without forsaking the open and inclusive cyberinfrastructure, the organization said on its website.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) itself seeks to address the need for streamlined patent search with its Global Patent Search Network. The article doesn’t say how many countries this engine reaches, but does mention that the PTO has worked with China’s government to make their patent documentation searchable; that cooperation is nothing to sneeze at. The article reveals:

“Users can search documents, including published documents and granted patents, recorded from 2008 to 2011. The records are available in in English machine translations, which PTO acknowledged could sometimes generate awkward wording, but ‘provided an excellent way to determine the gist of the information in a foreign patent.'”

So, next time you want to know whether your invention has already been invented, turn to these tailor-made search engines.

Cynthia Murrell, February 24, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext


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