• Dr. Silvan Berg

Know your patent language

Updated: Jul 15

The knowledge of specific patent language is one of the most important tools in the daily routine of patent attorneys. Choosing the precise patent phrases and the right way to describe the technology is crucial within the entire patent drafting process.


Hidden source of patent language

Thesauruses are a powerful tool when dealing with the issue of language. Sure, most thesaurus libraries only provide general language, but still they are a first pit-stop whenever you discover a new language domain and distinguishing the invention from prior art.


Let’s go deeper on this. The evolution of certain phrases in the patent language is quite fascinating. The graph below lists phrases that synonymously describe “smartphone” (just as an example). The search has been conducted in Espacenet for US patents only as the new translation for non-English patents still s*cks. In any case, the comparison of “smartphone” phrases indicates the bandwidth of technical phrases. As a reader we enjoy reading familiar words such as “personal digital assistant”, and “communication unit” and we start feeling comfortable with our chosen phrases. But as in patent language each phrase counts, we might quickly forget about the hidden phrases that are barely used like “information terminal device”. And if those words have been even less often been used in the past 10 years, we really have to be careful!



Let me ask: What if soon there will be the first thesaurus trained on authentic patent documents? And I am not talking trained on a few words, but on more than 300 million. What if, you soon could just explore patent language and find the phrases describing your technology precisely. Stay tuned…

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