Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Banner Image

BIO375H5 - Introductory Medical Biotechnology

Patent Searching: Keywords

Patent searching by keywords typically means searching for keywords in the abstract and/or full-text of the patent.

A robust set of keywords should be brainstormed before you search.  As you search, this list should be reviewed and updates as new search results surface new keywords.

To start off, think about:

  • synonyms
  • broader terms
  • narrower terms
  • related terms

Also, think about where truncation and search operators (AND / OR / NOT) may be useful.

Patent Searching: The Challenges

Keyword searching has many limitations, such as :

  • Synonyms, spelling variants (US vs UK English), misspellings, errors and omissions
  • Patents in a foreign language or those that have been poorly translated
  • Limitations of search tools: full-text may not be searchable or OCR not dependable
  • Generic vs. specific concepts
  • Non-descriptive titles and abstracts (particularly those designed to be vague)
  • Patent 'spin': language used by patent agents to increase 'novelty' or 'usefulness'
  • Date limits: many databases offer only classification search options for patents 30+ years or older

Using patent classification codes in combination with keywords is recommended by most patent search experts.

The Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system is the most comprehensive and precise classification system and has been jointly developed and adopted by the USPTO and EPO.  It links to the International Patent Classification (IPC) system of codes, which is used by all national patent administrative bodies.

Group Exercise #5

Using Espacenet, find patents related to chin implants.

What did you find?  How many were relevant?