Biomedical Engineering Reference
One of the main benefits of classification search is the best coverage in terms of
number of documents 29 (for the older ones, the full text is usually not available).
IPC and CPC are the best systems to perform an effective search.
In the case of complex inventions it is necessary to identify all possible classifi-
cation codes (if possible at a sub-group level), to avoid losing potentially relevant
The choice of the database in which to perform the search is also important: the
coverage (both in terms of time and in terms of number of available documents
and updating of data) as well as the field of specialization should be considered.
Computer systems (and in particular search engines and navigation interfaces)
play an important role in patent search.
One of the main features that navigation interfaces must have is the automatic
removal of duplicate patents and their arrangement in families (groups of patents
describing the same invention). Another feature concerns the online access to all stored
data (text, images, and so on) and to each patent sections (description, claims,…).
An example of search strategy 30 is the following one [ 24 ]:
• perform a preliminary search (using keywords) in the Title or Title and Abstract
fields to obtain a minimum set of documents;
• check whether resulting patents are effectively related to the inventive concepts
to be analyzed;
• if so, consider the classiications of relevant patents to broaden your search; oth-
erwise, repeat the search with other keywords.
A general suggestion is not to perform a preliminary search in the full text (which
might generate a high number of results), unless no results are achieved with the
search in the Title and Abstract [ 31 ].
Some final remarks about patent searches are the following ones. The main dif-
ficulties in a patent search can be attributed mainly to the following circumstances:
• the number of patent applications is constantly increasing (especially in biotech-
nology, organic chemistry and ICT);
• the quality of the abstracts 31 prepared by patent attorneys is quite low compared
to that offered by some database suppliers (e.g. Derwent);
• in many cases it is not suficient to have a searchable text, because it is essential
to process images, drawings and formulas;
• databases are incomplete.
To overcome these difficulties it is necessary on one side to act on information
technology (development of search engines and navigation interfaces, and the
29 For example, the bibliographic and keyword search on PAJ is limited to patent applications
filed since 1976, whereas the FI classification allows searches to be made not only for patents of
invention since 1885, but also for utility models (which are not envisaged in PAJ).
30 Based on the achievement of a set of highly precise data and the subsequent expansion of
31 Among all the sections of a patent, the abstract is the most neglected. The abstract usually quotes
the first claim and hence is aimed at protecting the invention rather than informing the public.