I recall a time when searching for Indian patents and applications online was almost impossible. Performing a search to identify relevant prior art would mean perusal of each and every weekly gazette published by the Indian patent office. These gazettes, being poorly scanned copies of the bibliographic data, would make patent searching a task in itself and let us not even begin to discuss the patience that was tested. It was a time when even the popular paid databases failed to provide comprehensive data on Indian patents.
Today, however, performing a patent search for Indian patents has become fairly easier thanks to InPass, Indian patent advanced search system. InPass is a portal that may be used to screen and retrieve granted and pending Indian patent information. The tool makes the status of any Indian application and details of the relevant documents submitted to the patent office available to users, thereby allowing a peek into the prosecution history of the application.
The best source to retrieve information on Indian patents is through InPass. While performing patent searches on paid databases and other freely available databases is easier and exhaustive, some paid databases suffer a lag in providing complete information on Indian patent publications. Therefore, when it comes to searching for Indian patents I would suggest using InPass. The system can be relied upon by inventors and searchers to retrieve patent information at various levels. The system facilitates searching for published applications and granted patents separately. Suppose you’re interested in identifying the granted patents that may be posing a hurdle prior to a product launch in India, the option is readily provided.
The InPass search interface bears some similarity to WIPO’s Field combination search page which is quite user-friendly in comparison to EPO’s espacenet and USPTO’s PatFT & AppFT. InPass allows a searcher to use various limitations such as assignee name, applicant name, IPC code, application date, etc to retrieve or filter search result sets. Depending on the motive of a searcher a search strategy may be designed to find the relevant search set. For example: Let’s take a keyword ‘metformin’; a search for metformin in the titles of published applications yields 115 results (titles were used here only for convenience and does not yield an exhaustive list). Now suppose, I want to limit this search to a combination of ‘Metformin and Glipizide’ in titles, the result set yields only 3 results. Further, suppose I’m interested in product patent for Metformin and therefore am interested in applications filed after 2005, I could also limit ‘metformin’ search result set using the filing date limitation. This yields a result set of 100 applications.
While I crow over the technical facilities made available by InPass, I would like to point out that the efficiency may suffer due to setbacks in update of information into the system. For example – 3069/MUM/2014 titled “Formulation of Metformin” was filed in 25/09/2014 by the applicant “Tulip Lab Private Limited”. However, a separate search performed with the Applicant name as “Tulip” or “Tulip Lab Private Limited” does not retrieve the 3069 application. Therefore, it is recommended to design a search strategy capable of overcoming such limitations, for which professional help may be sought.
Yet another hiccup is while performing a keyword search, the system does not recognize the ‘AND’ or ‘OR’ operators within one entry. Hence it is not possible to accommodate a long search string. The‘AND’ and ‘OR’ operators are fixed between entries and is provided separately thereby limiting its use in combination with parenthesis. This provision limits the searcher from using an exhaustive keyword string as there are a limited number of entries that can be made.
For example, a search performed on WIPO’s Patentscope for “Metformin OR Glipizide” in titles would yield 1300 results, further limiting this search set to “Tablets” i.e “(Metformin OR Glipizide) AND Tablet” would reduce the result set to 120. On the other hand, InPass does not recognize the operators in the key string “(Metformin OR Glipizide) AND tablet” if entered in a single entry (as illustrated below).
The only possibility is to make multiple entries of each keyword (as illustrated below). A search for keywords “Metformin OR Glipizide” yields 134 results while a search for the words “Metformin or glipizide and Tablet” in multiple entries yields 116 results. However, the set of publications drawn are not limited to only Tablet formulations as would be expected.
While InPass may have a few hiccups here and there, the system still remains the best source for information on Indian patent documents in the hands of a skilled patent searcher.