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Viewing a patent’s Search panel is accomplished by selecting the Search tab. The figure below shows an example of the Search panel:
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The Classes button provides a link to the USPTO web site definitions for US Classification terminology. Pressing Classes brings up your web browser pointed to the proper site.
Query Help brings up the USPTO web page for the various query fields, such as Assignee Name, Inventor Name, US Classification, and so on. Query Help helps you identify syntax errors in your specifications for these search fields.
Count Hits and Search are alternative buttons to help you gauge the full scope of your search specifications and keywords.
Count Hits performs a search using the USPTO web site, but only returns the total number of hits and the first 50 patent references. Count Hits is recommended for determining the effectiveness of search keywords and criteria so that you can control the number of patents you intend to review later. Since only one web access is required to count the total number of hits, the Count Hits button saves you time compared to using the Search button. Count Hits returns its answers in the Patent | Title grid at the bottom of the figure as shown below:
By double-clicking on any row in the Patent | Title grid, you can load the selected patent number into the patent dropdown list at the top of the figure, and load its file from your hard drive, or from the USPTO web site, as appropriate.
Search performs a full search on all the patents in the USPTO database that match your query specifications and keyword list. Search collects every patent listed in the returns, and can take many web accesses before it completes its function. So Search should only be used when you have determined that your query is a good one, and you can estimate the effectiveness of your query using Count Hits first.
The figure below shows how Search progress is monitored with the progress bar:
Search returns every patent in the Patent | Title grid when it has completed. At that point, the Number Collected is equal to the Total Hits. This situation is described at the bottom of the figure shown below where Number Collected is 685 and Total Hits is 685:
The Patent | Title grid turns yellow when it has collected new material (see figure above). Right clicking on the Patent | Title grid lets you choose from a menu of operations to delete selected rows, save the list of hits, load previously saved lists of hits, … Right clicking brings up the menu shown below:
If an entry in the grid has been highlighted, Delete Selected Entry will remove it from the Patent | Title grid list. Save Search As .. will prompt you for a file name in which to save the Patent | Title grid contents. Download Search List .. will bring up a process named Download Patents that will read the contents of the Patent | Title grid list and start downloading each patent in the background as you continue to work on Elkfor Patents ™ , allowing you to perform other tasks as the patent files are downloaded to your hard drive.
More detailed material on how to search is presented in the topic Search for Prior Art.
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