Keeping Up with Search Engine Patents

In SearchDay #52, I highlighted four recent patents covering search technology, and noted that you can learn a lot about emerging search technologies -- including those that may pose serious threats to your favorite search engine -- from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database.

A number of SearchDay readers agreed, but noted that patent searching isn't particularly easy. While it's true that serious patent searching is probably best left to professionals, there are alerting services that make it easy to learn about newly registered or issued patents that interest you. Most of these services are designed for professionals (translation: they're not cheap).

One service, called PatentAlert, is free to anyone who registers. PatentAlert searches the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database on your behalf, and sends you emails that include descriptions of patents in the fields of your choice.

Registering is painless. After entering of your email and password, you will be able to choose your subscriptions and preferences. You choose the themes of your interest, preferred format for email messages (HTML or plain text), and whether you want to receive updates daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

For each subject that you're interested in, you set up a unique subscription. For broad topics, you can select from dozens of predefined subscriptions using a pull-down menu. Alternately, you can limit your search by creating your own query, using predefined "field codes" and "field values," connected by Boolean operators.

This isn't difficult -- field codes are nothing more than abbreviations for things like the patent abstract, assignee name, inventor name, patent type, and so on. You can also combine these field codes with standard U.S. patent classification codes.

For example, most search-related patents will fall under the data processing or electrical computers classification (codes 700-717), often in class 707, "Data Processing: Database And File Management, Data Structures, Or Document Processing." Within this class are subclasses, including subclass 3, "Query processing (i.e., searching)." For searching purposes, this classification code is abbreviated "ccl/707/3".

To create a subscription that tracked query processing patents, you'd simply enter the query "ccl/707/3". To verify that you've created a valid query, there's a "check it" button that processes the query and pulls up a result list, allowing you to compare your results with what you expected to get. It may take a bit of tweaking, but eventually you can create some very specific searches that track patent activity of particular companies or technologies.

PatentAlert is a terrific resource for keeping up with the Patent Office. It's also a very well designed search and alerting service that's just a heck of a lot of fun to use.


Patent Alert/Trade-mark Alert
This free technology watch service for Canadian patents and trademarks will send you monthly electronic mail notices containing links to all newly registered patents that match the profile you submit.

Patent Search Links
A comprehensive set of links to various patent search databases around the world, maintained by
patent attorney Richard Neifeld.

Original Article: SearchDay #52, July 17 - New Search Patents
Newly issued patents offer fascinating glimpses of emerging search technologies -- including those that may pose serious threats to your favorite search engine.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.