I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there’s a reason why we are the market leader in patent sequence search. It has surprisingly little to do with our user-friendly search interface, our stellar customer support, or our good looks. While (at least some of) these things certainly help, it is the content that can only be found in our GQ-Pat database of patent sequences that makes the real difference. Think all patent sequence databases are the same? Let me explain what I mean in some more detail.

When, for example, a life science patent application is filed at the USPTO they ask that the inventor put all sequences into a nicely formatted list. This so-called “ST.25 listing” helps the examiners with their workflow and makes it straightforward to collect all sequences submitted to the office over time. In an ideal world, every inventor and every patent office would list sequences like this and that would be the end of it.

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After 15 years in this field and writing about this many times, I’m still shocked when I see professional IP people that use BLAST for their sequence searches. BLAST is a crude and unreliable way to align sequences, and under normal circumstances it shouldn’t be used for anything patent related. There, I said it.

Sequences play such a central role in the business models of many life science companies. Therefore I just don’t get that people spend good money on a commercial database like STN, GeneSeq, or SequenceBase and are still stuck with BLAST, or something similarly flawed such as Smith & Waterman or FASTA, as their only real search option. So why is BLAST is such a problem in patent sequence searching? It comes down to two major issues.

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We are very happy to extend a warm welcome to Camile Semighini Grubor, PhD, our guest blogger who will be contributing her thoughts through a series of blogs based on her experience as a Patent Scientist.

Patentable subject matter is defined in the 35 U.S.C. § 101 as: “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter”, with the exception that the claimed invention not include laws of nature, natural phenomenon (product of nature), or abstract ideas. In 1980, the legendary U.S. Supreme Court decision in Diamond v. Chakrabarty ruled that “Congress intended statutory subject matter to include anything under the sun that is made by man”. As technology, particularly biotechnology, has rapidly evolved, the eligibility of patentable subject matter has also been changed by recent court decisions. Such decisions affect many different industries, but the greatest impact will arguably be in the biotechnology sector.

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As more and more researchers and IP specialists sign up to use LifeQuest (full-text life science patent search tool), we have been receiving an increasing amount of positive feedback. This made us all feel so good that to say thanks, our team was inspired to create the LifeQuest Search Bar, a free tool that lets even more people try out the LifeQuest search engine, complete with our powerful query builder.


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We are very happy to extend a warm welcome to Stephen Adams, our guest blogger. Stephen is the Managing Director at Magister Ltd., an independent consultancy which provides a range of services to the scientific and technical information community, concentrating in the field of patents documentation. For more on Stephen, please see below.


The national referendum in the United Kingdom on continued membership of the European Union (EU) was held on 23rd June 2016, and resulted in a narrow majority (52%-48%) in favour of leaving the Union.  Until the formal procedure of negotiating the terms of withdrawal is concluded, the UK remains within the EU; the actual withdrawal date is likely to be some years ahead.  Any effects in the field of intellectual property will depend entirely upon whether the UK has existing domestic legislation in place, or has been reliant upon EU-made law for any aspects of IP within its territory.  We can break the subject into three sections, and review each in turn.

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We are again excited to welcome thought leader Dr. Stephen Tedeschi as a guest blogger. Dr. Tedeschi, is a Partner at PatentVantage, a leading patent research and strategy firm. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member at the National Institute of Health’s Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES). For more on Dr. Tedeschi, please see below.

Please be sure to check out Part 1 of this blog series.

Why Searching Patents for Non-Text Information is Crucial

Better Patent SearchingMechanical, chemical, and life sciences patents in particular, pose their own challenges to searching.  In all of these technologies, inventions can be described in ways that are not searchable through text-based interfaces.  For example, these technologies may be disclosed as images, Markush structures, or Gene sequences.  None of this information is effectively text searchable, if at all.  The ability to search them is created by database providers through the addition of indexing and other value added cross-referencing.  This type of manual curation takes time and often means paying to access the curated data, but effective searching is nearly impossible without it.

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