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Quick Guide for Free Text Searching (Novelty/FTO/Patentability)
Quick Guide for Free Text Searching (Novelty/FTO/Patentability)

How to create a search based on free-text efficiently

John Paul Keeler avatar
Written by John Paul Keeler
Updated over a week ago

This guide covers the basic steps of carrying out a Free-Text search for an invention, when you have either Claims of a patent application available - either as draft versions or as filed, or an Invention Disclosure/Project Scope description.

English is the native language of IPRally and optimal as input. German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish and Swedish are supported via machine translation (with a maximum 5000 characters). The translation happens inside IPRally, making it secure.

Professionally drafted Claims are an optimal input for IPRally, since the graph AI is trained with millions of professionally drafted claims.

In addition, you you may have the draft description or description as filed available, and that can be used to further improve the search is some cases.

The guide is specifically intended for

  • Patent Attorneys and Patent Managers to support the drafting process (pre-filing "claim scope sanity checks")

  • Engineers/Project Managers in R&D to support ideation and project stage-gate progression ("Idea sanity check")

Four steps of an efficient Free-Text search

The basic steps of a Free-Text search are:

1. Enter the whole Claims Set/Invention Disclosure/Project scope to the Free text search field

2. Review the search results

3. Mark the best findings as Favorites

4. Re-run the search using Zoom to Favorites

Additionally you can (but not covered in this guide):

The four steps are described in more detail and with screenshots below. For some FAQ/Best Practice, please click here (or scroll down to the end of the article)

1. Enter the whole Claims set/Invention Disclosure/Project Scope to the Free text search field and press SEARCH PATENTS

Search with the whole set of Claims first

Statistically, the whole Claims set alone is proven to provide almost as accurate search results as using the whole patent text, and is usually a sufficient input for a high-quality search.

Invention Disclosure/Project Scope/Technical Descriptions are also great inputs

If you don't have a Claim Set, a technical description/invention disclosure is a great input. The key is an input which describes embodiments according to the technical requirement in more concrete terms and with more specific examples, or the part that gives more context or technical field information for the invention.

What is NOT recommended here is a simple Title; Terms; Patent number - these inputs are for a Boolean Search.

2. Review the search results

IPRally provides many functionalities for processing the search results both inside the platform and by exporting data into another review platform.

Initial review inside the platform

The tool is self-explanatory when it comes to result analysis.

The result list and expanding the bibliographic data:

Showing image mosaics:

Smart image viewer by clicking the mosaic images:

AI-based relevant passage highlighting:

3. Mark the best findings as Favorites

If the closest prior art appears among the results of IPRally, you can click the heart symbol to make the hit a Favorite.

If, for some reason (yes, that happens 😊), the closest prior art is not among the hits of IPRally, you can manually enter the publication in the Favorites tab:

You are able to add multiple documents here as well:

We recommend using 1-5 best hits as favorites. Provided that they do not contain a lot of contradictory information, carrying out the next step (step 4) usually improves the quality of the search results. Please see our article on Zoom to Favorites for more guidance

4. Re-run the search using Zoom to Favorites

Toggling Zoom to Favorites on and pressing SEARCH PATENTS again, will utilize the Favorites information (together with the original graph) to find more relevant hits.

Note: you can track the new hits in the list using the VIEWED status of the hits (Blue: Un-Viewed / White: Viewed). You can easily 'hide viewed' under the View Options to only see which new results appear with the new search:

The viewed status changes also automatically, if you open the full document view.

Once you have re-run the search, get back to the analysis step 2 and repeat iteratively, if needed.

FAQ's/Best-Practice for Free-Text Searching

When using the Free-Text tool, please use the below insights to drive your searches:

  1. The AI cannot (yet 😊) read your mind: Therefore, give it enough

    • Context information:

      • E.g. “device” -> “mobile communication device” / “method” -> “method for processing signals”

    • Technical details:

      • Detailed is better than general

      • Functional relationships are important (and possible!) in IPRally

      • E.g. “elongated member engages with circular member to oscillate pendulum”

  2. The AI is trained with real claims and specifications:

    • Don’t be afraid of “patent jargon” (e.g. “means for …” / “first element”): The AI understands it!

    • Claims-level of details is a good starting point

  3. In free-text search, use natural and consistent language:

    • Full sentences, include articles, internally coherent part names, etc.

  4. Try to achieve a logical graph that contains the essence of the technology:

    • Perfection of the graph is not necessary!!

  5. Common abbreviations are recognised but often longer format is preferred

    • e.g. “SEM” -> “scanning electron microscope”

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