August 27, 2011

Finding prior patent art with PriorSmart, PatentLens, and PatentStorm

PriorSmart is a great resource to start finding prior patent art.
I especially enjoy their international list of databases to search for patents.
First, let's find the patent I want to find prior art for, it's title is 'Product Value Information Interchange Server'
PriorSmart will start the prior patent search at any of the given patent databases on the left.
Since I know it's a US Patent, Google Patents will most likely have it, let's try there...
Sure enough, there it is.

This another one of those infamous patent owned by the vile Lodsys.
Now I know patent's number, US 7133834, can read it's abstracts and claims, or follow it's US patent citations to.  I prefer to download the entire patent to have for a reference, click the 'Download PDF' link.
Now I can open the pdf...
And check all the patent's citations, domestic and international. I want to make sure to avoid finding prior art that is already cited by the patent.
As you can see US 7133834 has done a more  thorough job citing other patents and references than the other Lodsys patent we looked at earlier.
But still, US 7133834 only cites two international patents and considering the broad and generalized claims of the patent even it's citation of previous US patents and publications is still weak.
Ok, let's return to PriorSmart and try searching for the title with PatentLens instead. Since US 7133834 is weak on international patent citations I want to search a more global patent database than Google Patents.  PatentLens searches not only US patents, but European and Australian too.
As you can see PatentLens easily finds US 7133834 from a title search as well.
One of the cool features of PatentLens is that you can always search from the top of the results page itself.

Let's try a Structured Search by following the link...

And erase the title search PriorSmart had started for us.
With a  Structured Search I have several different search options. 

I want PatentLens to search through its patents abstracts so that's what I've selected.

Let's start by searching for 'customer interface server'.
My results look great but there's too many.  Let's restrict the results by patent issue date.
I can do that by returning to the Structured Search above and checking the 'Publications or Filing Date' box.  This will open up a couple fields that I can use  to restrict the results by Published or Filing date depending on the option I've selected.

Ok, since US 7133834 was published on August 6th, 2006, let's try searching the 10 years previous to that.
I could also restrict the results by Patent Collections, but I don't want to.
Ok a few hundred less results is easier to look through and now I know they're before the issue date of US 7133834.
PatentLens offers quick ways to open several patents at once or to save specific results later by checking the box to their left...
And selecting 'View check patents' or 'Save checked patents' at the bottom left of the results.
PatentLen's patent summary page is very useful with the patent's bibliographic information, claims and abstract.
I can download the entire patent by following the 'PDF Version' link in the above navigation bar.

And either right-clicking to save the document, or at least in my browser (Chrome on OSX) clicking the save icon on the bottom right.
PatentLens also provides a helpful 'Patent Family and Status' section for each of its patents.

It looks as though the Australian version of the patent has been given priority of the US one, despite being published two weeks later.

Now that I know the patent's other numbers it's easy for me to check the citations of US 7133834 to make sure it's not already's not.
And if I can scroll down I can view the summaries of the different versions of the patent. 

You'll notice PatentLen's footer page has a link to it's help section.
So now you know where to go for help with the many topics not covered by the guide, including Expert Search.
Now I'd like to introduce you to another great resource for finding prior art: PatentStorm.  PatentStorms only drawback, like Google Patents, is limited only to US patents and applications.  But as we saw with PatentLens, there are still plenty of US patent that US 7133843 doesn't cite as prior art.

The useful navigation bar at top allows us to Browse patents by Inventor, Examiner, or Date.

There's also a FAQ if you have any questions this guide doesn't cover.

Let's start again with patent US 7133843, it's easy to find since we know the number.
There it is, the top result.
From PatentStorms summary page we can check the bibliographic information and follow the links to the US patents it cites.
We can also read the claims and abstract.
The feature I like most about PatentStorm is the ability to quickly search for other patents with the same classification.
If you hover over the class numbers, a window should display the class name.  Class 705/26, Electronic shopping, looks perfect.
PatentStorm has over 5,000 US Patents and applications in that class!  But they're up until the present, I'm only interested in patents issued before August 6th, 2006.  Let's try narrowing the results by issue date with an Advanced Search.

First copy the US class for Electronic shopping.

And follow the 'Advanced search' link located above.

Now paste the class 705/26 into the 'U.S. class' field.

Restrict issue date to between August 6th, 1994 and August 6th, 2004.
Unfortunately I get no results and have no idea why.  We'll have to just return to the 5,000 classification search result and scroll through until we get to a scroll through until I get to a year I'm interested in.
It takes me until page 83 to find results before August 6th, 2006.

But there's a quicker way to navigate the pages at PatentStorm than following the 'Next' link.  You'll notice the pages number is included in the web address above.  
If I change the ending of the address from '122' to '22' then PatentStorm takes me right to page 22.
I've found a result I like, but unfortunately to download the entire patent from PatentStorm we have to pay.

I'm not sure why anyone would though, after all US patents are easily downloadable from Google Patents.  Let's search there instead for 'Pay-per use for data-network-based public access services'.
There's my prior piece of patent art, all ready to be read and downloaded.
Ok, since I still haven't  found an international piece for prior art for US 7133834 and the classification search on PatentStorm didn't go so well, let's return to PriorSmart and try searching for 'electronic customer interface'.
But before we being our search, let's also restrict the results to those patents with the same IPC, or International Patent Classification.  Let's look back at US 7133834 to get it's IPC code 'G06Q 50/00'.
And type it into PriorSmart's IPC field.
And try submitting it to Espacenet.
I get no results, but that's just because PriorSmart started my search with the European Classification instead of the IPC.  We'll have to try an advanced search.

There's a already a Patent-Ed guide to learn more about using Espacenet here.
On the left side of the page you'll notice a navigation bar.

Follow the 'Advanced search' link.
Type the IPC classification code into its field.  We'll try 'electronic customer interface' again in the abstract.

And restrict the dates to the usual 10 years prior to US 7133834's issue date. 
And get some really great results...most are international in origin, so I know the likelihood of US 7133834 citing them is low. 
There it is, finally, a great piece of international prior patent art!
Return to Patent-Ed's Visual Guides for finding prior art >>