“More than one way to skin a cat” – different search strategies in Cluster Searching to help you find what you are looking for

Imagine being asked to search for prior art for patent US9,000,000, the patent featured in our last blog which compared Cluster Searching to Semantic searching. What search strategies could you use?

Firstly, lets think about how you might search for prior art in a conventional word based prior art search system. You might develop a series of queries. Maybe something like

  • Query 1 – Find me all patents that feature Windscreen AND washer AND rainwater in any of Title, Abstract or Claims
  • Query 2 – Find me all patents that feature (Windscreen NEAR washer) ANDrainwater in any of Title, Abstract or Claims
  • Query 3 – Find me all patents that feature “rainwater” in any of Title, Abstract or Claims, AND CPC class of B60S 1/48 (which covers liquid supply for windsreen washers)

There are probably many other suitable queries, and all of the professional searchers I have worked with always tested a range of queries before running a final search.

And my point? There is raretl such thing as a perfect, or perfectly obvious query in traditional searching. Instead a searcher has to use their best judgement when forming queries 

Much the same applies to Cluster Searching – there are a number of different queries you could run. For example, getting back to US9,000,000, the search approaches could include:


1) A simple search

In this search we simply add the patent number being searched on:



 2) A family member search

In which all known family members, or perhaps the family member patents filed in the key jurisdictions of the US and WO are included:



3) A known citation search.

This can include all known patent citations – both forward and back. In the query below, not of the query patents are visible.



4) An “Examiner citation” search 

Adding in the list of examiner citations to the original query



5) An augmented search

In which the best patents found in an earlier Cluster Search is added to the original patent. In this particular case I have weighted a couple of the patents taking into account my earlier assessment of their similar to the original patent.




Each search will provide a slightly different set of results.


Which is best to use?

I would suggest that the answer is the search that gives you the best result – and just like conventional searching, you may need to try a range of queries to work out which query that is.

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