Spending money on patent databases? What are you paying for and why?

Here at Ambercite we spend a lot of time talking to clients about our software. And because some of us are searchers ourselves, we also use and assess a range of other patent databases. And this is a good thing, as a different databases can give different results, and a broad range of perspectives can give the best results.

Based on all of this, we have picked up a bit of experience on how to assess a patent database – and this could be helpful for other people.

So what factors should be used to compare patent searching databases? We would suggest the following:

  • Subscription price: These can range from free for some popular databases, up to tens of thousands of dollars for some specialised databases.
  • Data coverage: The simplest databases can be for one jurisdiction only. A number of databases are based on global data available from the EPO (as per their Espacenet database), while some others supplement this with data from some of the national patent offices.
  • Available search options. The normal search options include keyword, ownership and class codes, and these are available from some free databases such as Google patent and Patentlens. Other databases allow semantic searching, where algorithms try to predict similarity based on shared terms or concepts. Ambercite takes a completely different approach, as will be explained below.
  • Ease of use in searching: Some databases are ridicously easy to use, while others get progressively more complex. One subscrciption database I have used in the past was particularly difficult to use because while it did have an internal logic, it would take me a few minutes to remember each time what this internal logic was. Eventually I stopped using this database for this reason.
  • Ease of use in reviewing results:. Some databases provide a simple list of results, while other provide a large amount of detail. There is a trade off here – more data can be slower download and review times.
  • Graphical perspectives: A number of databases include the ability to produce graphical perspectives of the results, often automatically generated. However – the limiation with automatically generated perspectives is that they can be of limited value, as the underlying data can be of mixed quality – for example in terms of relevance to the purpose of the study, or ownership accuracy. 
  • Overall speed of a patent search: How long does it take to run a search from start to finish – including formulating a query, reviewing the results? This can vary dramatically, particularly if you are forced to review what can be thousands of results in an unordered fashion, or a not neccessarily helpfully order – such as publication date for example (‘but I just want the best prior art – not the most recent…)
  • Confidentially: Only you should know what you have been searching for.


Having established this – how does Ambercite stack up in this comparison?

We would suggest very well:


How does Ambercite compare?

Benefits to users

Subscription price

Cluster Searching is available at a very competitive price per user, particularly for groups of users

High return on investment. Finding just one additional and relevant patent can more than pay back the subscription cost

Data coverage

Ambercite uses the same global data as found in the EPO patent database Espacenet. While this is not 100% of available patents, published citations are rarer for the missing patents

Broad coverage

Available search options

Ambercite is completely different to every other database out there, in that it searches for similar patents to one or more starting patents based on applying advanced algorithms to over 100 million citation links in our database. By doing so it can uniquely find relevant patents with unexpected keywords or class codes.

 Finding additional patents means more informed and lower risk decisions being made as a consequence of your decisions.

Ease of use in running searches

Invalidation, portfolio review and  licensing searches can simply start from the patent numbers you would already know. Other searches can based on results found in a simple search of other databases

Less time spent formulating queries, and less chance of erroneous assumptions affecting your results.

Ease of use in reviewing results

Results in Ambercite are listed in order of similarity to the query patents, along with title and owner information. Hyperlinks provide detailed information for each patent listed

Less time spent reviewing patents 

Graphical perspectives

The Amberscope option available with Cluster Searching can provide a very unique perspective of the relationship of a patent to similar patents

Added insight into the importance of patents that you find

Overall speed of a patent search

Working from a good starting patent (for example a patent you may trying to invalidate) a search can take seconds to set up and run – there is no need to develop a query. Results are ordered by likely similarity, and you can quickly scroll through the simple list, or export the results into other applications.

Less time searching can mean more time doing other things – so creating extra value


Ambercite does not record any patent searches or lists of results

Your searches can never be recalled from the Ambercite server


We should note that Ambercite Cluster Searching is best seen as a complement to your other search tools. And why not? I very rarely meet a patent searcher who only uses one patent database – just like doctors rarely really only on their stethoscope alone for diagnosing patients. 

In summary, when we look at the things that matter when choosing a patent database, Ambercite Cluster Searching can have substantial benefits – particularly the value of finding more of the patents that matter due to its unique searching approach.



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