Australian DNA ImageAfter the United States Supreme Court ruling in the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics in June of 2013, the industry scurried. The Court ruled that naturally occurring DNA is not patent eligible even if isolated, but cDNA or “complementary DNA” is because it is not naturally occurring but rather a product of the laboratory scientist even though it is exactly the same nucleic acid information.

In fact, however, cDNA is naturally occurring, as many viruses convert their viral RNA into mRNA through cDNA: viral RNA → cDNA → mRNA. Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court ruling, based in a lack of understanding of the science, created the broadest possible interpretation of isolated DNA and cDNA. This ruling forced the USPTO to create even more complex guidelines to determine whether inventions were patent eligible, which opened the door for dozens of law suits on the eligibility of claims formerly granted pre-Myriad.

Australia recently undertook the same challenge – in this case the Australian High Court took on D’Arcy v Myriad Genetics and ruled similarly that Myriad’s claims relating to isolated BRCA1 nucleic acid were not patent eligible subject matter. However, in Australia’s case, the clear, scientifically grounded, well-reasoned ruling enabled the Australian Patent Office to release narrower, new guidelines that promote innovation by setting clear rules.

In particular, they note that any naturally occurring subject matter which merely claims genetic information, be it isolated DNA, RNA, whether human or non-human, coding or non-coding, is excluded as patentable. In addition, they point out that any man-made constructs that do nothing more than replicate genetic information of a naturally occurring organism are also excluded, including cDNAs, probes, etc. They clarify that this excludes man-made constructs that are not naturally occurring, be they chimeric DNA or novel antibody sequences. This alone makes it much cleaner than the current US system.

In addition to clear specifications of what is excluded, the High Court took things even further by also clarifying what can be considered as patent eligible. These include:

  • Recombinant or isolated proteins.
  • Pharmaceuticals and other chemical substances.
  • Methods of treatment.
  • Methods of applying herbicides.
  • Applications of computer technology.

As we followed the developments in Australia, we thought it might be interesting to  examine trends in patenting to see if there are any recent effects. We generated a heat map using a combination of LifeQuest and GenomeQuest data to better visualize what is happening. It depicts all Australian grants and applications that contain any one of the phrases cDNAisolated DNAisolated protein, or recombinant protein occurring in the claims.

Our findings indicate that the High Court ruling affects a significant number of documents that refer to cDNAs during the ten year span from 1998 to 2008, and that the claimed subject matter for recombinant proteins has continued to grow in recent years. There is a significant, clearly identifiable increase in 2015 of the term cDNA in claims made up of a large number of new applications with rewritten claims that still refer to cDNAs but it is important to note that they are directed toward methods for using them in diagnostic and therapeutic contexts.

Australian blog heat map

The message is clear: with clear guidelines for subject matter provided by the Australian High Court and Patent Office, innovators were quick to see the writing on the wall and reformulate their IP in Australia.

Update: GQ-Pat now has over 310 million sequences

Back in July we reported that there were 300 million sequences in GQ-Pat, including 256 million nucleotide sequences and over 45 million protein sequences.  And these protein sequences aren’t just automated translations of nuceotides like TrEMBL. All of these sequences are in fact found in patents and patent applications from patent authorities around the world.

This year we’ve added 75,000 documents and 27 million sequences, making GQ-Pat even bigger than before.

To put this accomplishment in perspective, when the Human Genome Project formally began in 1990, there were fewer than 40,000 sequences in GenBank, before being transferred from Stanford to the newly created National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

As of December of 2015, according to the NCBI’s GenBank Statistics page, there are 189 million nucleotide sequences in GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ consortium, the world’s gold standard for sequence databases.*

Size of GenBank compared to GQ-Pat

Not only does GQ-Pat have more sequences than GenBank, these sequences help searchers in other ways as well:

  1. The sheer size of the database itself helps organizations save money through efficiency and the fact that important search results won’t be missed.
  2. Sequences in GQ-Pat are well annotated because all of them have been found in patents, making them more valuable to researchers. Patent information includes descriptions of a particular invention, including the way in which the invention is used, the inventors, the owners, biological information about the sequence, its function, and so on.
  3. Researchers using GQ-Pat can obtain results much sooner than those using public databases like GenBank because patents are typically filed before publications are drafted.

We’re so pleased that more and more researchers are turning to GQ-Pat to search sequences for a huge variety of life science related projects. When it comes to researching or protecting intellectual property, the quality of the results are often only as good as the size of the database they come from. That’s why we’re dedicated to maintaining the world’s largest. Of course, we’re also adding rich annotations and making sure updates are added on a weekly basis.

If you’ve never tried it, and you’re interested in searching our 310 million sequence (and growing) database for yourself, there’s never been a better time to get in touch about a free trial.

* There are another 50 million protein sequences in Uniprot, the leading protein sequence database, although 98% of Uniprot is TrEMBL, which consists of 49 million unreviewed computer-generated protein translations of nucleotide sequences already in the nucleotide databases.

Infographic: 7 Reasons WhyOur post on the top reasons why scientists should be searching patents was so popular, we’ve put together an infographic of the top seven reasons why patents simply can’t be ignored. It’s a whole new year, so if you or someone on your team is still on the fence about whether to include or expand patents’ role in your research efforts, we hope you’ll take these points into consideration.

For example, did you know that you might be missing 80% of the current technical knowledge if you’re not including patents when examining FTO or monitoring the competitive landscape? [that’s #2 on the list!]

LifeQuest makes it simple to incorporate full-text, natural language patent searches, delivering and organizing your results for more efficient sharing and analysis. As a matter of fact, 84% of the life science patents in LifeQuest extend upon the knowledge found in scientific articles in PubMed. [#4 on the list!]

To see the remaining reasons, download the Infographic. Send it to your boss – send it to your patent research team – or download it just to check out the cool graphics.

Three Pro Tips for Scientists When Researching PatentsThose of you who have read my previous blog post 10 Reasons Why Research Scientists Should Patent Search know that I use patents to find information about my research topics. One of the most valuable resources I had when I first started researching patents was a lengthy (and rather technical) introduction to the way they work.

At GQ Life Sciences, we all believe that everyone should have easy access to patent information. In that spirit, I’ve summarized three of the most important elements to help you access patent information as efficiently as possible.

  1. Know about the patent life cycle.

You have to understand that most applications for patents are never granted! When you search a patent database, you’ll be searching both granted patents and the large number of patent applications that are in process.

A patent application is born when an inventor submits it to a patent office. A patent examiner, employed by the patent office, decides whether the invention can be patented by comparing it to everything that is already known, the “prior art,” and by determining that the patent is “non-obvious” and has some useful application.  Only after this step is successfully completed does the application turn into a real granted patent that can be enforced. This determination can take years, with multiple back-and-forths between the inventor and the patent office, and the application itself changes through that process, with specific embodiments of the invention being added or removed based on feedback from the patent examiner. During this time, patent databases will describe the patent’s legal status as an “application.”

Once granted by the patent office – where its legal status will become “grant” – it has a roughly 20 year lifespan of protection, after which the legal status becomes “lapsed.” The 20 year term period starts at the priority date, the date the invention was made. Knowing this basic lifecycle can help you determine a lot about the invention being described and its potential impact on your own patent research.

Pro tip: find the most relevant patents by searching only for those documents where the legal status is “grant” or where it is “application” and the publication date is within the past five years.

  1. Understand patent families.

Most applications and patents come in families, a group of patents that are related to each other by a priority date. Take for example the same application filed in multiple countries through WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). WIPO doesn’t grant patents, but they will give an opinion on how potentially patentable an invention is. They also give you a priority date, so that if you later decide to file the patent application in one of their 145 member states you get to use that date as the date the invention was made. Taking this route avoids the costs and troubles of filing in lots of different countries/languages right away and still gives you lots of options to protect your invention if it turns out to be valuable later on. Because these WIPO applications all share the same priority date, they end up in a patent family together.

Another way in which US applications can end up in a family together is if they are somehow derived from an earlier application and claim the priority date of that earlier application. This can happen when new claims are added for the same invention (continuation), when the invention has been improved by the same inventor (continuation-in-part), or when an existing application is split into smaller parts (divisional). See more complete explanations of these concepts.  When claims from different applications are mixed into a new application like this, the document can end up with multiple priority dates.

There are two main types of patent families. The first one, often called a “main,” “simple,” “tight,” or “basic” family, is where all documents in the family have the exact same set of priority dates. These are typically the exact same application in different countries. The second one, often called the “extended” family, is where every document shares at least one priority date with at least one of the other documents in the family. These extended families include all the US derivative patents explained above, and can grow much bigger.

Pro tip: use patent families to avoid reading the same document issued in different patent authorities. Instead, pick the single representative document of that family that matters most to your patent research, based on its date, its country, its completeness, or its native language. Also, use patent families to keep track of how a specific invention progresses after the first application has been filed.

  1. Pick your search strategy well.

With an estimated 80 to 100 million patents out there, it is essential that you pick the right strategy to go through them.

You have to find the right keywords to search with first. Unlike scientific articles, inventors often willingly make their patents hard to find by avoiding the usual keywords associated with their domain! They often resort to vaguely describing things instead of outright naming them. In addition, the vocabulary associated with a technology often changes as a research field progresses over time. To find these things you have to cast a wide net first by trying different keyword combinations, using synonym lists, and scanning some of the returned documents to find more and better keywords.

Once you’re satisfied with the search results, it’s time to narrow them down by removing all documents that you aren’t interested in. If you have a lot of results, you can try filtering on specific fields like title or abstract. If one of these contain your keywords the documents are almost guaranteed to be interesting to you. You can also filter by publication date to see only the most recent documents. Most professional searchers I know will even go through a long list of documents one at a time and see why they picked it up. Good software for result analysis with a user interface designed for this task will help tremendously.

Be mindful where you search. In this day and age it’s relatively easy to find patent search services online. Just know that not all of them are easy to use, and that none of them are very complete. For example, the USPTO site is notoriously user unfriendly and their full text archive is only US and doesn’t go further back than 1976. Google patents doesn’t allow you to search in specific fields like title, abstract, claims, or dates. It also has holes in its data. Especially recent documents are not always available immediately.

Pro tip: the one field where inventors have to be specific about their invention is the “Claims” field. It’s the place where they specifically itemize the various components of the invention that they are trying to protect. Make sure you focus key elements of your search on that field.


This year GQ Life Sciences supported Boston’s annual holiday food drive, BostonCANShare.

This year GQ Life Sciences supported Boston’s annual holiday food drive, BostonCANShare. It’s a great program that collects food at the Greater Boston Food Bank and then distributes it to over 90 food pantries, emergency meal programs, and shelters.

Our competitive team of engineers are always up for a challenge, so we decided it would make for a more exciting food drive if we divided up into teams. Each team was challenged with maximizing the amount and diversity of food they could obtain with $150.

So we randomly split up into four teams, and GQ gave each of them $150 and an afternoon to go buy food. The rules were simple: no other money could be used (but some of the $150 could be used for transportation).  There were no restrictions on receiving free food if the team could be that persuasive.  Of course, everyone had to stick to the allowable foods as described by the BostonCANShare food drive.

All we needed was a computable way to determine which team maximized the amount and diversity of food they could pull in with the $150… a how would this competition be scored?


Glad you asked. We’re engineers, so as you might have guessed, we made it complicated. We wanted teams to maximize the number of calories they bought, maximize the variety of foods, and make sure that they got roughly equal amounts of food f or each of the five food groups (dairy, protein, fruit, veg, grain).

We even came up with an advanced formula and a complicated Excel sheet to track teams’ progress, but we won’t bore you with that here. I do want to mention though, that different teams attempted to compute maximal solutions to the problem in different ways (journal article in American Math Society pending).


Our four teams set out around Boston for an afternoon of food-sourcing fun. We shopped in supermarkets, found great sales, snuck into Chinatown for amazing deals, and hauled back loads of food.  The whole office spent the early evening computing team scores over hot toddies and snacks (food shopping has a way of building an appetite).

There were winners and there were losers, but in the end, we all won: GQ Life Sciences donated 484,117 calories of healthy foods with a great distribution across all major food groups and lots of different products to choose from. That’s enough food to feed a family of four straight through the winter, and we did it for just $600.

It can be hard to find the time in our busy lives to volunteer, to give back, to help those in need. Everyone at GQ Life Sciences was proud to play a part in this food drive and we’re all looking forward to doing it again next year.

Finding More Needles in the Life Science Patent Haystack

When a search for something (digital or tangible) is started, often, one of the first tactics employed is to narrow down the scope to increase the chances of success, or at least speed up the process. Why search upstairs if you know your car keys are probably somewhere in the kitchen?

It’s the same thing with data.  There’s a reason why lawyers are known to overwhelm their counterparts with a deluge of discovery documents – because it makes it harder to find what’s important.

As someone that’s likely searched for specific patent data, you’re already intimately familiar with the challenges associated with the massive scale of information involved. Based upon data provided by the major IP content aggregators I estimate the total number of patent applications (that is, anything ever filed anywhere in the world) to be between 80 and 100 million.

As our company name suggests, we’re all about Life Sciences, so we asked ourselves how much more we could eliminate in an effort to make life science patent searches more efficient? According to WIPO [1] a little less than 90% of the 17.8 million applications they handled from 2000 to 2013 are unrelated to  life sciences. The remaining 10-11% are what Life Scientists really care about (analysis of biological materials, biotechnology, medical technology, or pharmaceuticals). By narrowing the focus, we can avoid things like electrical machinery, audio-visual technology, communication, IT management, computers, semiconductors, measurement, and optics.

So we set out to create a full text patent search application just for life scientists. Of course, this is more challenging than it sounds for a variety of reasons.

Like us, your first thought might have been “just use classification codes.” However, it’s important to note that life sciences was still a relatively small field when the International Patent Classification (IPC) was created in the early 1970s. As the field grew, newly invented topics were added to branches that seem to make the most sense at the time.

Unfortunately, this kind of organic growth of a taxonomy has scattered life sciences applications throughout the IPC, unlike for example chemistry where all topics are nicely organized in a couple of branches.

It became clear that the only way to find all the life sciences related classification codes would be to go through the CPC, IPCR and ECLA classifications one entry at a time and make a list of codes that could be life sciences related.

That was the easy part. Our team then retrieved all documents containing at least one of these codes, and added every member of their patent family, regardless of their classification codes, to our database.

To further complicate the proverbial haystack, search terms like gene names and common abbreviations often have meanings outside of life sciences, which means searching everything is likely to return false positive hits.

Take the case of a common abbreviation “NIR” which refers to nitrate reductases in biology. Unfortunately, searching for that term will return patent application results in optics, where the same abbreviation stands for Near Infrared. This also makes search alerts frustratingly difficult.

Fortunately, with industry-specific search tools like LifeQuest, you don’t have to weed out these irrelevant documents, (which could cause you to miss good search results as well).

Our team also had the opportunity to leverage an extensive list of customers that represents almost the entire life sciences industry. Using their recent patent applications (filed over the last couple of years), we reviewed the list of classification codes for correctness and completeness. That turned up a couple of classes that you wouldn’t suspect are about biology just from looking at their descriptions like applications on tractors that are good at harvesting specific crops, or computer algorithms for analyzing biological data. As a result, we ended up with a little over 15 million documents, all relevant to the life sciences.

As an independent test for completeness, we compared the resulting database to GQ-Pat, another database of almost 700,000 documents that we know for certain are all life sciences related because they contain biological sequences. The result? Every document in GQ-Pat is included in LifeQuest.

This final number (15 million) comprises about 15-20% of the total number of applications filed, which seems about right when compared to the 10% life sciences documents in recent WIPO applications I mentioned earlier.

So if your organization is involved with life sciences, why continue searching areas for patents that aren’t related to your work? Want to see how much faster you can generate a complete list of results? Get your LifeQuest Trial and let us know what you think.


[1] accessed on November 23, 2015

Over the last decade we have succeeded in making GenomeQuest the industry standard for biological sequence searching in IP. We did this through the combination of specialized IP search algorithms and what has become the world’s largest IP sequence database (let alone the largest sequence database on earth) through a combination of automation and manual curation of patents from global patent authorities.

Not so long ago we launched LifeQuest, a new product that allows you to search the full text of all life sciences related applications and patents. We created it in close collaboration with our many existing customers, and we really tried to listen to them. They honestly believe that using LifeQuest will make you more productive and allow you to do things that you couldn’t do before. Here are the five things that they think you should know about:

  1. Browse and search full text. The records in GQ-Pat contain the basic bibliographic information, but LifeQuest takes this one step further by making the complete text and the PDF of the document available as well. To make sure that you get the most out of this we added fully featured query and highlighting capabilities using life science ontologies to help you find better results.
  2. Combine sequence and full text searches. If you move search results from GenomeQuest over into LifeQuest, it also transfers the sequence alignments. This feature, for which a lot of customers asked us, makes it possible to combine multiple sequence and full text searches in LifeQuest without losing sight of the alignments themselves – something you’ve been unable to do in GenomeQuest till now.
  3. Updated USPTO PAIR information. A PAIR record details the interaction between a patent applicant and the USPTO. People use it to find out if a patent is still active, had its term extended, is open for prosecution, or had its claims limited. The USPTO makes access to this data difficult by hiding it behind CAPTCHAs and query forms. In LifeQuest, up-to-date USPTO PAIR information is readily available for all US documents. You can use this to your advantage and get work done more quickly.
  4. Monitoring and alerting. LifeQuest makes it really easy to monitor large lists of documents. It will tell you right away when things are granted, when a Kind Code changes, or when new members are added to a patent family. In addition you can automatically repeat a previous search at a regular interval and get an email when something new has been found.
  5. Search result annotation. Once GenomeQuest results are inside LifeQuest they can be annotated using color coding and star ratings. When combined with the fully customizable table display and the export capabilities to Excel, it will allow you to quickly review a large list of documents and share it with others in the organization.

So if you’re already a GenomeQuest user, or just someone who is interested in doing full text searches for life science patents and applications, you can sign up to demo LifeQuest today.  Sign up for a free trial.

What to Look for in US public PAIR

us-patent-office-bldgLike most people that work with patents, I have always understood that USPTO’s Patent Application Information Retrieval (public PAIR) is the USPTO’s way of sharing information on where a patent application is in its lifecycle. It is a critically important resource because it provides the most up-to-date US patent information. Still, I was a little overwhelmed when we began adding all of that information to our LifeQuest product a couple of weeks ago. It was clear that I had some serious catching up to do.

Did you know that prior to 2002, the only way to get up-to-date information was either by going to the USPTO in person, or by ordering a copy of the file history through snail mail? Since there was no way to know in advance how big a file would be, and because they charged by the page, this could be an expensive and time-consuming procedure.

Today, all this information can be accessed on the USPTO web site, but accessing it can still be a bit of a hassle. To prevent people from scraping the information from the web pages, the good stuff is hidden behind many mouse clicks and a test to prove that you are really human. While this may work well to protect USPTO information, it kills productivity for us normal patent searchers, especially when we have many documents to lookup (which is most of the time!)

Now for the good news: GQ Life Sciences has obtained access to the same underlying data source that the USPTO uses to update their public PAIR portal, and we’ve added this continuously updated information to all US documents in LifeQuest.

The USPTO organizes PAIR data in a tabbed interface (we’ve done the same in LifeQuest). Wondering what you can dig up when performing your search? Here are five key things to look for:

  1. The Application Number

If the document you’re looking at has been granted then you can use this number to retrieve the original application.

Where to find it: LifeQuest Bibliographic Data Tab

  1. Pre Grant applications that have been abandoned.

This is the first and most reliable place to see if an application has been abandoned by the people that submitted it.

Where to find it: LifeQuest Bibliographic Data Tab

  1. Complete communications history between the examiner and the applicant.

Here you can see interesting things like how thoroughly the application was examined, or if the claims have been limited in some way.

Where to find it: LifeQuest Transaction History Tab

  1. Examination delays and extensions that have added time to the term of the patent.

The delay is added to the standard term of the patent, which normally comes down to 20 years starting from the earliest priority date.

Where to find it: LifeQuest Patent Term Adjustments and Extensions Tab

  1. Basic family members that are open for prosecution.

US PAIR lists any US applications that came before or after the current application that also claim benefit from/to it.

If the list has a pending application in it, the family is open for additional prosecution, meaning that new applications that claim benefit to an earlier priority date can still be filed (the family can still be extended using the earlier priority date).

You can also see additional granted patents and PCT applications, a clear indication of value for the application or patent you’re looking at.

Where to find it: LifeQuest Continuity Data Tab

Public PAIR is available for all granted US patents and published US applications.  It allows anyone to look at the details surrounding the prosecution of an application and the interaction between the applicants and the USPTO.

By studying this data, it is possible to determine if a patent is still active, had its term extended, was examined thoroughly, is still open for prosecution, or had its claims limited. Connecting this valuable information with full-text search results is just one of the ways we aim to make patent research easier and more productive.

How do you like to use US Public PAIR data in your research?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Searching through USPTO Public PAIR data is only one of LifeQuest’s many capabilities.  Sign up for a free trial today and search for Public PAIR data and more patent information with ease.

Earlier this month, GenomeWeb featured an article entitled, “GenomeQuest Rebrands as GQ Life Sciences, Refocuses on Patent Search Market”.  We’re pleased to have our company’s growth recognized by one of the leading independent science news publications.

Uduak Thomas, who wrote the article, did a great job chronicling our company’s timeline from its early days through the progression of our products that have grown from a database of patented gene sequences, to our foray into analyzing next-generation sequencing (NGS) data, to our most recent product, LifeQuest, which is one of our most ambitious projects yet.

As our portfolio of life science patent search products continues to expand, it’s inspiring to see customers accomplish exciting, even unexpected things that make significant contributions towards helping solve huge, global problems. ADM, one of our customers mentioned in the article, uses our databases to explore patents to look for ways to convert agricultural raw materials into other products, including food for humans, feed for animals, and bioenergy. They’re even using our data to research ways to design probiotic feed inoculants to replace antibiotics for farm animals.

As we head into the new year, our team is excited about the opportunities ahead for our customers. Our development team is working hard to add additional public and proprietary data sources to LifeQuest, starting with peer-reviewed scientific literature. We continue to receive great feedback about the user interface in LifeQuest, and we have some great ideas to make it even better. We’re certain that other exciting new discoveries will be found even faster as researchers discover the power of combining sequence data with full text search results in LifeQuest.

Download the article.

lifequest-logo-512562-editedLike any molecular biologist that has worked in pharma research, I have searched through and read a lot of scientific literature. I like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’m always surprised though, when I run into colleagues who don’t spend much time searching patents on a regular basis. I understand that the patent world can seem daunting and confusing, and even knowing where to start is difficult, but there are pretty strong arguments for including patents the next time you research a topic.

1. Stop wasting your budget.

It has been estimated that up to 30% of all R&D expenditure is wasted on redeveloping existing inventions [1]. Most of these unnecessary costs can be avoided by searching existing knowledge on a topic first. While many researchers diligently go through scientific literature and books, they often forgot about patents. Patents are a large,  up to date source of information on applied science and technology, and should be included in all state-of-the-art searches.

2. Find relevant information not found anywhere else.

Patents contain a lot of information that is not published in scientific journals. The European Patent Office (EPO) claims that up to 80% of current technological knowledge can only be found in patent documents [1]. This is because overall it is easier to file a patent than to publish a peer-reviewed paper, and with patents there are no restrictions on the number of pages used to describe the experiments and results. Also, as a matter of policy, many companies do not disclose their R&D results in any other way than through patents.

3. Find this information sooner.

Being the first to patent something, the right of priority, gives people a strong incentive to file early and disclose all information in a great amount of detail. In many patent authorities, as soon as a patent application is filed it becomes available to the public after which it should be included in state-of-the-art patent searches.

4. Find high value information.

Filing a patent costs time and money, and companies generally do not do it unless they think their invention has value to their business. If it has value to them, then you should probably know about it as well.

5. Get free inventions.

Many patents are no longer valid. Not only do they expire after 20 years, at which point anyone can use the invention, many are also abandoned much earlier in the patent life cycle because fees are not paid on time or because they simply do not get granted. Around 85% of all patents are no longer in force or have never been in force [2]. These are free inventions for anyone’s  use.

6.Use granted inventions as well.

Even when a patent is in force it can still be useful to know about it. In some situations the invention may be used for experimental purposes. Also, a researcher might decide to consult an IP specialist in the company and change research direction, or license the invention from the patent owner. Of course, anything that is not explicitly mentioned in the patent claims is always free information.

7. See what the competition is doing.

Patent searches are the perfect way to gather business intelligence and monitor innovation strategies of other players in the field very early on. Use this information to your advantage and adjust your own R&D strategy or find potential collaborators this way.

8. Prepare for filing your own patent.

The only way to prove that an innovation is really new is to search all existing knowledge, including the patents. In fact, examiners at the patent office will always search existing patents before they try anything else.

9. Search the full text, not just the abstracts.

For commercial reasons, the full text of scientific articles is often locked behind a paywall. As a result, popular literature search tools will only let you search the abstracts, causing you to miss a lot of important information in the rest of the article. Patents are always available as full text, giving you the choice of searching only the abstracts or searching all text.

10. Searching patents is easy to do nowadays.

Gone are the days when patent searching required extensive training or the assistance of an IP specialist. With a web-based patent search tool like LifeQuest it is very easy to search an always up-to-date database of life science patents filed anywhere in the world. LifeQuest helps you construct better queries using suggestions of synonyms for your search terms that are pulled from life sciences ontologies like MeSH and Gene Ontology (GO). It also helps you manage your search results, so you can find the most relevant things quickly. There are no more excuses for not searching patents.


  1. As estimated by the EPO here:
  2. WIPO IP Statistics Data Center