IP Cases & Articles

Free chemical structure searching in patent documents

​Patent applications and granted patents provide a rich source of chemical information which can be searched using a variety of strategies including searching by keywords, applicant names and patent classification codes. This information is important as the first public disclosure of chemical entities is often in patents.

Chemical patents also include large volumes of molecular structures which have traditionally been harder to access than other data, particularly through free online sources.

Now chemical information availability is changing as more open access is being provided.

Patentscope chemical structure searching

One such free source is WIPO’s chemical structure search functionality in the Patentscope database, which is an add-on to its existing search facilities providing users with a free resource for searching chemical structures.

The chemical structure search provides a feature that both recognizes the names of chemical compounds in the text of the patent and recognizes the structures of compounds from drawings embedded in the text. The structure search is available in the PatentScope dropdown search box as chemical compounds search option (this is available for logged-in users and an account can be created free of charge). Here users can upload or draw a structure or convert an entered structure to a compound, commercial or trivial name.

Searches can be run for the exact structure or enlarged by the “search for scaffold” option which searches the basic skeleton of a molecule. The search is conducted through the title, abstract, claims and description fields of the patents, and coverage includes PCT applications in English and German (from 1978) and the national collection of the US (from 1979). The results are presented as a list and structures in the retrieved results can be displayed.

There is also an analysis function enabling the search results to be classified, for example by inventor or applicant, providing some basic patent landscaping. Structure searches can be combined with other searches such as classification codes or a keyword.

In our experience, the PatentScope chemical structure search is easy and intuitive to use and provides chemical scientists with a very useful first-stop free resource to identify potentially relevant patents.

Other online chemical data

Other sources of free online chemical data include PubChem, SureChEMBL and ChemSpider, while databases such as CAS patent databases on STN and Questel Orbit’s new Orbit Chemistry module can be accessed by subscription or pay-as-you-go fees. SureChEMBL is an additional source of up-to-date chemical information extracted from patent documents and is also searchable using chemical structures or substructures, as well as drug names or a combination of both structure and keywords. PubChem also offers fast chemical structure searching across both patent and non-patent documents, and provides information on biological properties and activities.

As the wealth of online resources of searchable chemical data rapidly expands, finding ways to navigate and exploit such information is a key skill for today’s innovators. At D Young & Co our IP search team can assist with your chemical searches and other technology patent searches, and provide advice on searching your chemical inventions. Our searches are attorney led and conducted by specialist searchers using a variety of proprietary databases, free online resources and specialist searching tools; our investigations include validity searches, freedom to operate searches, patentability searches and landscaping reports.

Our search services Quality & informed IP searching at D Young & Co.