• Boolean IP Team

Using Boolean Operators for Effective Patent Searching: Boolean IP Consulting

Updated: Nov 29

The number of patent filings per year keeps surging globally with each coming year because of the increased pace in continuously evolving technologies and market competition. Many patent applications for similar inventions are being filed and the burden on patent examiners to distinguish between those keeps on piling. As a result, many patent applications are rejected because of similar existing patents or prior arts and many non-novel or inventive-step lacking patent applications are erroneously granted after lack of a thorough prior art search. Now the second case may seem beneficial to the assignee of the patent in the initial stages before product launch or licensing-out of the patent, it may pose threat to the validity of the patent at a later stage. In the nutshell, the effort or money invested in granting of the patent or other stages after grant may go futile if the patent gets invalidated.

It is therefore imperative for inventors to know the basics of prior art search during their invention research to understand existing similar technologies or patents. There are many available patent as well non-patent databases that provide reliable prior art information. Most of those allow searching by paying certain subscription fee. However, there are many freely available databases like Google Patent as well that provide decent coverage of main patent jurisdictions. In most free databases, the searching can be done similar to what we do in normal Google search. We input a simple sentence query and the database provides all the relevant hits that include some of the keywords from your query. You have to be lucky enough to get the bang-on prior art using such databases depending on the technology.

However, when it comes to running complex search queries, especially in domains related to Life Sciences and Chemistry, it becomes difficult to identify very similar prior arts on freely available databases. For such cases, paid databases come handy. Most of the paid databases use similar kind of operators (or rather say logic) to identify closely related prior art. The most common ones are the Boolean operators such as AND, OR and NOT. Here are some simple examples:

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