Often it’s very useful to be able to search and find key words through the text of a patent. I do this to find examples of particular intended uses or formulations, for instance to see if a stem cell patent contemplates cellular therapy or if a chemical formulation might be administered via an implantable device. It’s also a quick way to find the places where dosages are discussed. These findings help determine the potential scope of a patent or sometimes even whether or not it’s likely to be valid or enforceable. These can be important dimensions of a competitive assessment.
However, the pdf versions of the patents and patent applications that you’ll typically find in the databases generated by the US Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO) or the other major world patent offices like, for instance the European Patent Office (EPO), are pdfs of images rather than of text based documents.
While I like to use a pdf to highlight and to read more quickly than a text document, when I find a patent that I need to save for my analysis, I generally also download a text version. For instance, in today’s other post about finding patents for a competitive landscape study, I discussed U.S. Patent No. 7, 736,205, the full text of which is here on lens.org. My usual modus operandi is to cut and paste it into a MS Word document or a text editor, my favorite of the latter being nvALT (by Brett Terpstra) on the Apple platform. If I forget the text download, it’s also usually good enough to OCR the pdf to create a text layer. Typically, I’ll use PDFPenPro for this, again on the Mac ecosystem.