Simple vs. Sophisticated Approaches for Patent Prior-Art Search

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Abstract

Patent prior-art search is concerned with finding all filed patents relevant to a given patent application. We report a comparison between two search approaches representing the state-of-the-art in patent prior-art search. The first approach uses simple and straightforward information retrieval (IR) techniques, while the second uses much more sophisticated techniques which try to model the steps taken by a patent examiner in patent search. Experiments show that the retrieval effectiveness using both techniques is statistically indistinguishable when patent applications contain some initial citations. However, the advanced search technique is statistically better when no initial citations are provided. Our findings suggest that less time and effort can be exerted by applying simple IR approaches when initial citations are provided.