Advanced Patent Search Methods


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Tour: You should have already reviewed the Tours. These provide a good, high level overview of the powerful capabilities of ICO Global Patent Search technology. The following will discuss in more detail how to harness the search technology to maximize your ICO-GPS search results value.

Boolean Search Queries: First, ICO-GPS is NOT a Boolean search engine. DO NOT apply the search query techniques you’ve used on Boolean search engines. They will not produce the high value results ICO-GPS can deliver.


Your search methodology should follow a simple 2-STEP sequence:

DIVERGENT SEARCH: Create a Concept Based search query that captures the broadest set of relevant patents – even though many patents may seem stray, or not entirely relevant (but they probably are to a greater degree than not),
CONVERGENT NARROWING: Use Boolean “Search Within” feature to systematically narrow the search results page to the most focused final patent references.


Concept-Based Search Queries: Concept search queries generally follow the flow of natural English language. The most important patents you seek most often express the INVENTIVE CONCEPT.

Claims Describe the Invention! The claims of a patent most often describe the inventive matter in a fairly precise manner. Use a CLAIM from a representative patent as your Concept-Based Search Query — yes, the ENTIRE CLAIM.

So, from a patent that describes the Inventive Concept of a folding crutch Invention – a bi-directional hinge connected to telescoping tubes, find a representative patent from which you extract the entire first claim to use as a Claims / Concept Query:

A bi-directional hinge for coaxially joining a first tube and a second tube, said hinge comprising:a connector attached at one end of said first tube, said connector and said first tube being slidable within said second tube;a bracket having a first end pivotably attached to said connector and having a generally spherical second end;wherein said connector includes a head portion having a notch with a pin thereacross and wherein said first end of said bracket is circular and planar and has a hole therein which is engaged by said pin of said connector so as to permit pivoting of said bracket about said connector, the hole of said first end of said bracket being semi-circular, and oriented so that the linear portion of the hole is perpendicular to the axis of said second tube when said bracket is in said second tube;means for stopping said first tube from sliding into said second tube beyond a preselected depth;means for biasing said bracket and connector into said second tube

That’s quite a search query – and the search results show an entirely different focus – one that targets the inventive concept:

US: 4,753,259 A1- Adjustable folding walking aid
US: 4,105,347 A1 – Gin pole connector
US: 5,967,475 A1 – Hunting bow hanger
US: 5,524,547 A1 – Signal tube and detonator cord connector
US: 5,463,955 A1 – Transmission tube connector
US: 6,318,762 B1 – Piping structure
US: 6,561,113 B1 – Water craft mooring device
US: 6,456,258 B1 – Spring loaded antenna mounting system and method
US: 6,206,387 B1 – Collapsible skateboard
US: 5,402,552 A1 – Henge connector for pivotal glasses temple

These results are Highly Relevant with respect to the concept of the invention searched. These results show that: (a) the “invention” in fact may NOT be novel given our ability to search the inventive concept across unrelated patent classifications, (b) the earliest granted patent may actually be infringed by these seemingly unrelated “products” that incorporate the invention, (c) companies that manufacture products other than walking crutches may be potential licensees for the hinge system used in the crutch. Nevertheless, you can quickly whittle down this relevant results set by proceeding to Step 2 – Boolean Filtering.


At the top of each Search Results page, you can enter Boolean terms to narrow the search results. Start by eliminating patents that do not meet your criteria. Use ICO’s exclusive Dynamic Search Thesaurus (DST) to identify the Boolean “NOT” words, and rerun a refined search. The DST words are shown in each patent result (see the orange arrow in the sample results page above).

When you’ve narrowed your search results further, you may elect to rerun the entire search a few more times by simply clicking on the “More Like This” link next to the patents that most closely represent your invention (blue arrow above). This link automatically regenerates the Concept-Based search by using the Claim of that patent as a new search query. Repeat Step 2. refinement until you have identified the most important patent documents.

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