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Connie Wu Engineering and Patent Resource Librarian Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA

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Non-Patent Literature (NPL) in the Patent Prior-Art Search USPTO Patents Search Templates, WIPO Requirement & EPO Resources. Connie Wu Engineering and Patent Resource Librarian Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA March 21, 2007. Concerned Issue.

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Non-Patent Literature (NPL) in the Patent Prior-Art SearchUSPTO Patents Search Templates, WIPO Requirement& EPO Resources

Connie Wu

Engineering and Patent Resource Librarian

Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA

March 21, 2007

concerned issue
Concerned Issue

A study sponsored by the Great Britain Office of Scientific and Technical Information in 1974 revealed that only 5.77% of the patent studied were published as other forms of literature;

A 1977 study conducted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also concluded that eight out of ten patents contain technology not disclosed in the non-patent literature.

However, the situation could be changed during the past decade. The Internet speeds up information dissemination. A large amount of related information has been published in non-patent literature forms.

The rapidly new technology development, such as telecommunications and biotechnology also present challenges in searching and identifying the most relevant prior-art. This is often because the best and vital prior-art with respect to these emerging technologies is available as non-patent literature.

In other words, non-patent references may harbor most of the important prior-art. That is why the analysis of non-patent references has received considerable attention recently.

non patent literatures npl
Non Patent Literatures (NPL)

USPTO NPL scope:

Includes electronic databases, journals and other serial publications, monographs, conference proceedings, technical disclosure bulletins and other research materials.

importance of non patent literature
Importance of Non-Patent Literature
  • One of five searches cites NPL
  • NPL contains more prior art than patents in new technology (biochem…)
  • Internet speeds up the information dissemination
  • NPL offers more deep indexing for search
uspto jpo epo efforts

Recognizing the increasing importance of non-patent literature, the Trilateral Office agrees to begin an efforts to share data related to their non-patent literature databases.

uspto practice
USPTO Practice

USPTO searches a large selection of non-patent literature, including technical journals, books, magazines, encyclopedias, product catalogues, and industry newsletters. In addition, patent examiners have access to hundreds of in-house and commercial online databases

Emerging technologies, such as telecommunications and the computer-related arts, present challenges in searching and identifying the most relevant prior art. This is often because the best prior art with respect to these new technologies is available as non-patent literature.

  • Currently, patent applications filed in the USPTO, the United States patent application publications and United States patents are classified into approximately 600 classes based upon technology and subject matter of the claimed invention.

The prior art search is performed by consulting the appropriate classes and their respective subclasses in the United States classification system, other patent document databases, and any other printed media (also known as "non-patent literature" or "NPL" )

uspto solution
USPTO Solution

The USPTO has published "search templates" for each of the classes found in the USPTO's Manual of Classification. A search template will define the search field and resource areas of general subject matter, classes/subclasses, patent documents (both domestic and foreign) and NPL that an examiner should consider each time a patent application is examined in a particular classification.

uspto solution1
USPTO Solution
  • The search template will indicate what search tools or methodologies should be considered when performing the search. These search templates are based upon input from patent examiners and other searchers at the USPTO.
uspto search templates
USPTO Search Templates

wipo requirement online
WIPO Requirement Online
  • PCT Minimum Documentation:

Non-Patent Literature

wipo jopla

Journal of Patent Associated Literature (JOPAL)

epo resources online
EPO Resources Online

XP document: NPL at EPO

Access to NPL at EPO