Quickly research prior art for an invention

Derwent research guides

You need to search for prior art to find out if your invention is novel and patentable. You have a description of the invention, but you may be unfamiliar with the technical language. Derwent Innovation gives you the tools you need to easily research prior art and review the patents most closely related to your invention.

Distill your invention into key concepts and terms

  1. Generate a list of keywords using Smart Search
    • Enter top keywords of technical features or points of novelty


  • Enter block of text from an Invention Disclosure Statement, technical summary, or draft claim language
  1. Review results for any unknown synonyms that might be useful for a fielded search
  2. Use extracted keywords for a traditional fielded search with appropriate Boolean operators





Entering a block of text in Smart Search will automatically extract keywords to run in the search. This is a great way to develop an initial keyword list.  Consider incorporating truncation operators (? or *) into the keywords for a Boolean search in the Title/Abstract/Claims field or text fields.

Expand to a global search

A novelty search will examine all known art, so it is best to run the most comprehensive search in the global patent literature.

  1. Click Change Collections and click all jurisdictions by the categories across the top (Applications, Grants and Utility Models).
  2. Check the box above to Also Search DWPI Fields for selected collections. You will now be able to retreive hits where keywords are found in the full-text patent and the enhanced Derwent World Patents Index ®   data
  3. Click Apply to save your collection settings

Develop a concentrated fielded search query

  1. Select desired fields from the Fielded Search page to populate with keywords extracted from Smart Search or your own synonym list
  2. Broaden search with Wildcard/Truncation Operators such as ? or *
  3. Add any proximity operators (SAME, NEAR, ADJ,OR) required

Use classification codes to supplement keywords

Classification codes broaden your search to include relevant patents which might not contain your initial key terms:

  1. Click the plus sign to add a new field and select IPC-Any or CPC-Any; use OR between the Claims field and the classification search field(s)
  2. Type the classification code or click Lookup    to search for codes using keywords or classification codes
  3. Click Apply to populate codes from the Lookup tool.


Use the Preview / Edit Query box to add extra parenthesis ( ) around any fields to be searched in the disjunctive with the OR operator.  Click Check Syntax to confirm correct parentheses balancing and then click Search.

Collapse by Family to deduplicate result list

An invention may be patented under many different authorities. Collapse your results by DWPI or INPADOC family so you can focus on one record for each invention:

  1. Click on the DWPI families  radio button at the top of the screen

Customize your result list columns for faster review

  1. Click on Manage Columns above the result list to choose fields of interest
  2. Use the arrows or drag and drop the fields to change the column order from left to right
  3. Click Apply to save column preferences

Column and Sorting Tip:

Consider displaying the DWPI Title for faster review of the inventions in your result set.

Sort by the Relevancy field to display the Smart Search score or number of hits based on your keywords for Boolean searches.  

Review result list and optionally narrow search

  1. Carousel through the drawings in the result list by clicking on the arrows over each image.
  2. Review the enhanced DWPI Title to better determine relevancy of results
  3. Supplement the query by clicking Show Search at the top of the screen to add new search parameters
  4. Make any changes to the query and click Search

Identify similar inventions in the record view

Click the hyperlinked publication number for relevant records to open the record view to see full details about the patent.

  1. Review the editorially enhanced DWPI Title and DWPI Abstract to easily understand the patented technology in concise, descriptive, English-language text
  2. Click on the Image tab to view the patent figures; zoom in on the image and view other images using the scroll bar at the bottom.
  3. Click on the Highlight tab on the right to jump through the document by keyword

Save highly relevant records to Work Files

Save particularly relevant patents to Work Files for deeper review, search modification, or export.

  1. Jump to the relevant keywords in the Highlight tab by term or by field to quickly identify the most relevant hits
  2. Save relevant hits to Work Files for export or to create a readily accessible list of prior art you will need to disclose during prosecution of your own invention.


Once you have created the Work File for this project, you can save to Existing Work Files and the top 5 most recent Work Files will be listed in  the drop-down.  All other Work Files will be listed in alphabetically below.

Export data to perform offline, in-depth analysis

Derwent Innovation lets you export data in numerous formats, including Excel, to perform automated analysis offline that you can share with colleagues or clients.

  1. Click Export on your result set and select Excel as the export format
  2. Move fields to support your analysis from the Available Fields list to the Export Field list with the arrow
  3. DWPI Title & Abstract Fields will make evaluate similarity to your invention easy; Relevancy gives you a keyword alignment score or Smart Search weighted score
  4. Links to the drawing overview and original PDFs/images help evaluate patent relevance

Highlighting Tip:

Search result exports will automatically highlight keywords in colored text in Excel.  Exporting results from a Work File will not include highlighting unless you activate My Terms under the Highlighting options menu.