Wildcard Searching to Favor Specific Patent Characteristics

I was working with a customer the other day, and we had an interesting question come up. The solution is not only clever, but may change the way you approach many of your patent search projects. But I have to warn you, you’ll have to use our search syntax to benefit from the technique.

Before we get into the details, let’s illustrate the basic technique with a simple example. Say we wanted to find all Apple Inc. patents. However, we want to sort the patents to the top where Steve Jobs is an inventor. How can we do it? (Trust me there is a practical application of this technique).

First make sure your default sort is by the Relevance field, then copy/paste the following query in Quick Search:

ANO:(Apple Inc) AND (IN:(steve AND jobs) OR *:*)

Voila! All 11,000+ of Apple’s patents and apps with those invented by Steve Jobs at the top of the list.

Now let’s apply this technique to class searching

Let’s say you do some keyword searching and you identify several classes where you think you’ll likely find most of the relevant patents. However, you are not quite confident enough to completely exclude all other classes from your search. How can you construct a query to:

• Favor patents that are in selected classes—that is, bring them up higher in the sort order.
• Not eliminate patents that are in classes not explicitly stated in your query.

Use the wildcard, *:* (star colon star). *:* means any field code, and any data. It is analogous to *.* (star dot star) when searching for files in directories in Linux or DOS (for those of us old enough to remember MS DOS).

Let’s work though this concept starting with the following base query:

(arrange AND packet AND wireless) AND (CCL:(370/338 OR 713/300)

This query finds patents that have all three keywords and are classified in in either of the two classes in the CCL clause. The result is limited only to patents in these classes, and AcclaimIP will not find patents that match the keywords in any other classifications–not what we want.

What we want to do is add a classification search clause that neither expands nor restricts the results (in other words, the recall is solely determined by the keyword search), but the classification search contributes to the relevance (which is the default sort).

To do this, the first part of the query can remain as it is.

To modify the second part, simply use the match all docs query, *:* ORed with the class search. For example:

(arrange AND packet AND wireless) AND (CCL:(370/338 OR 713/300) OR *:*)

Notice the outside parentheses in the second clause says AND in these classes, CCL:(370/338 OR 713/300), OR any patent at all (*:*).

This technique will not change the recall (number of matches), but it will influence the sort order favoring patents in the named classes. You can try deleting the second clause in the query, and you’ll see the number of hits is identical to the full query.

To further influence the Relevancy sort, a variant of the query could also be:

(arrange AND packet AND wireless)^0 AND (CCL:(370/338 OR 713/300) OR *:*)

Notice the boost of 0 (the ^0) on the first clause. Now the class matches are always first, instead of balanced between term frequency and class hits.

You can also play around with the class boost by boosting classes for something less absolute:

(arrange AND packet AND wireless) AND (CCL:(370/338 OR 713/300)^2 OR *:*)

The advantage this last technique is you still get ordering from the first keyword clause, as well as the class matches.

As the Steve Jobs example shows, you can use this query to favor any field in the sort of your results. For example:

(ANO:(Apple Inc) AND (ANA_INREF_CT:[10 to *] OR ANA_PEND:[1000 to *] OR *:*))

Which finds all Apple Inc. patents, and favors the sort with those patents with at least 10 forward citations, and a Pendency of 1000 days or more, but the query does’t exclude patents with fewer than 10 forward citations or less than 1000 days of pendency.

You might find these queries a little intimidating at first, especially if you are not a big user of AcclaimIP’s query syntax, but I think if you do nothing more than copy/paste these examples into AcclaimIP’s Quick Search, and examine how the results change, you’ll learn subtleties of influencing sort order using the match all docs query (*:*).

Give it a try, and have fun!

Matt Troyer

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