Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Think the Way They Search - Installment 1
Coronado Group is an evangelist driven to teach people to Search the Way You Think. Our Cognition IP suite lets you use detailed and nuanced text that represents your complex ideas, inventions, products, and research to search and find patents. Once you find the patents that are conceptually and semantically closest to what you are looking for, we add in other tools to help you navigate through the US and International patent world. One of the more useful tools is the patent class trees.
One of the most challenging and daunting skills to develop is how to take advantage of is the US and International Classifications systems. We've worked with a lot of patent attorneys who have told us flat out that it's just to hard to deal with using the schedules so they use other methods for hunting down prior art and information on new patents. "Classifications are just number mumbo jumbo that clutter up the front page of the patent," says one of our classification handicapped colleagues.
So, we bring you Coronado's Classification Crash Course.
There are two classifications systems. The one maintained and used by the USPTO - the US Patent Classification system (USPC). The second classification system is the one maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The WIPO International Patent Classification System (IPC) is used by the rest of the world the International Patent Classification system (IPC), or at least most of the rest of the world.
Understanding how USPTO uses the patent classification schedules and how you can use the content of our invention disclosure and other important patent application documents to get an idea of which Group Art Unit at USPTO is likely to examine your patent can be important information as you move through the patent prosecution process.
So we'll take a shot at explaining the patent classification system and teach you how to think the way they search -- to understand the basics of the US Patent Classification system and how to use it to find important information.
On the front page of each granted patent and published patent application you'll find the classification data. Let's start with the US Patent Classification data. The US patent classification information looks like this:
(52) U.S. Cl. ..... 705/7; 705/30; 705/14.1
What's the most important piece of information in this sting of data? The classification in BOLD. This is the classification that determines which Group Art Unit at USPTO that is responsible for examining your patent.
It's not such a big deal when it's your patent or patent application because you already know who has your patent application or who examined your patent. Where it comes in handy and can be a very big deal is when you want to figure out where one of your competitors patents is being examined or where subject matter you think is similar is placed. Knowing this information can provide insight into how USPTO is thinking about certain types of inventive art and where your invention fits into the scheme of things.
On patents the classification in BOLD is called the Original Classification or the OR in Patent Office parlance. On patent applications the classification in BOLD is called the Primary Classification. The classification in BOLD is also called the CONTROLLING CLASS.
And what determines the Controlling Class? The Most Comprehensive Claim in the patent or application. The claim that the classifier believes contains the most comprehensive subject matter, the most extensive (greatest in USPTO speak) combination of elements and subject matter. The one that discloses the invention in the most comprehensive way.
And..the Most Comprehensive Claim can be a dependent claim. In fact it usually is a dependent claim because they tend to have all the bells and whistles attached. So when you write your most extensive claim, the one with the most comprehensive subject matter, remember that may be the very claim that decides who is going to examine the application.