This is the sixth (and last) in a series on Asian patenting (see my initial survey, Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan posts). I have omitted India as at present relatively little patenting occurs from there, although that is likely to change.
A database that searches the databases of 19 authorities at once is Singapore’s SurfIP. These include (from Asia) Singapore itself, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Russia and Brazil are also included, so if India was added all the BRIC countries would be represented.
The default search is limited to Singapore, China (in translation) and the USA and you need to register (for free) to get further access. A search will produce titles and summaries showing the words highlighted (but not drawings), and the results can be ranked. The Intellogist site has a report briefly commenting on its features.
Those who need to know what database coverage is available for a country can use the Intellogist Interactive Patent Coverage Map.
Clicking on a country gives a list on the right hand side of official and non-official databases, including links to priced sites. Often of course the coverage is in international databases covering numerous countries. Hence India has links to its official sites, Questel, the Derwent World Patent Index and so on. If you’re not good at geography you may be in trouble. This is extremely useful although of course it may be awkward to figure out what to do next: what database do you select, how do you use it.
An approach I often explain to novices if a search is confined to free sources is to use Espacenet and then use "country codes" as limits. Suppose I enter a search using keywords. Usually material from the Far East dominates the early pages in the results. I may prefer initially to see material in English, in case I quickly find what I want. I can insert in the “publication number” box the codes
GB EP US WO
...which confines the search to Britain, the European regional system, the USA and the PCT or “world” system. It is true that both EP and WO material may be in other languages than English but most of the hits will be in English, and nearly all will have English summaries. I can then repeat the search but this time inserting in the “publication number” box the codes
JP CN KR TW
...which confines the search to Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. It is true that there will be some overlap because of the way the database works, but to a high degree I am now searching entirely new material.
I adjust this approach when using the ECLA classification (the EC box in the search page). As ECLA is mostly confined to the USA, the EP system and some European countries and the World system I usually run a search without limiting it by authority. I then use the same classification in the bottom, IPC box on the search page and limit it to those Asian countries, again to avoid repetition in the results.
This can be more complicated than it sounds as the ECLAs can be longer, more precise classes than the IPCs (which always end with a number, e.g. /12, as opposed to /12C or /12C2), and the class itself has to be found using the Classification Search function in Espacenet.
For priced searches (which is what I normally do) we turn to a database we recently subscribed to, TotalPatent™. It enables full text searches in English or using machine translations for patents from China (from 1986) and Japan (from 1975) and many other countries such as Germany and Russia. In practice I normally confine searches in this database to title, abstract and claims to avoid being swamped by material. Intellogist also has a report on this database.
We charge under £150 for searches on the database. Enquiries can of course be made to our Research Service.