Sunday, January 31, 2010

SURF IP -- International patent searching from Singapore's IP office

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore offers a free online intellectual property search tool that could be a real time-saver for quick IP searches.

SURF IP is a portal that allows searchers to send a simple keyword search or an IPC classification search across several countries' patent databases. Though the searches are not comprehensive (they're limited to the parameters of a basic search at a given database; searches at the USPTO, for instance, are limited to post-1976 patents), the interface is easy to understand and the results display clearly. I would recommend this tool for casual patent searchers -- people interested in getting an idea about developments in an area of technology, for instance -- and as a supplement to espacenet.

I used the example of a Frisbee to try out SURF IP:

  1. To determine an IPC code for flying discs, I looked up "discus" in the Index to the USPC. The Index referred me to US class 482/21.
  2. Using the USPC to IPC8 Concordance, I translated the US class to IPC code A63B.
  3. Finally, I clicked on the IPC Search tab at SURF IP and entered my search term. You can choose to search all available databases or any combination of one or more of those databases; I searched all and got a nice list of results that matched my IPC code.
It's nice to have another free patent search tool on the block!


Kristin said...

Hi, I completely agree with you about Surf IP being an excellent complement to esp@cenet. By the way, have you tried IPEXL ( It's a more advanced search interface built on the same data collections as SurfIP.

I was very interested to see this post! I work for Intellogist, a free website where we provide in-depth editorial reviews and comparisons of free and commercial patent search engines, and we also host wiki pages and a discussion forum to get the community's perspective. We have a wiki page on IPEXL, at We also offer a global patent coverage map, a "resource finder" for discovering technical literature databases by subject, and wiki best practices articles for sharing search tips. I hope you'll stop by Intellogist to discover a few more free patent search resources, and sign up for the community while you're at it! We'd love to hear your take on which are the best free systems out there from a librarian's perspective.

Kristin said...

Hi again, one more thing - I meant to let you know that Intellogist also hosts an in-depth report on Surf IP! If you or any of your readers want to learn more about the system, check out: