We are currently developing a new site to host the Patent Manual of Practice and Procedure. The BETA version of this site is now available for you to review. The information and content displayed in the BETA site is only available for testing purposes. Do not use or reference the information in the BETA site when making any decisions or actions regarding IP rights. Applicant and/or Inventor Name Searching

Date Published

Background / Introduction

Frequently applicants and /or inventors have worked for some time in the field to which an application relates and have parallel applications or other applications directed to closely related technology.  These applications may either be undergoing search and examination, or awaiting it. Moreover, closely related past applications by the same applicant or inventor may also be highly technically relevant to the current application either as a source of citations themselves (e.g. P, X) or as providing search strategies that have proved successful in identifying relevant art.  It is therefore important that such documents are located as early as possible in the searching process to allow as appropriate, simultaneous search and examination, assisted drafting of an effective search strategy or to identify what will undoubtedly be closely related art.


The general principle to be applied by all 3PT is that applicant/inventor name searches are likely to be useful and therefore should be considered for all original searches on PCT and national applications, (for both standard and innovation applications).

Consequently, searching of the applicant and/or inventor name of all original searches is mandatory, except where, in the judgement of the three person team, either:

  1. such a search would serve no useful purpose

    (e.g. where the application clearly identifies cross-references to other cases of the applicant’s own)
  2. to conduct the search would give rise to non-viable results

    (e.g. a very active applicant / inventor or very common name e.g. smith, gupta; applications in which there are many inventors.  

    Note: In such a circumstance the 3PT should consider other strategies that might be used to further limit the results (e.g. inclusion of keyword, IPC etc))

It is recommended that these searches be conducted before commencing a comprehensive search, so that the results may assist in the development of the search strategy using, as appropriate:

  • internal databases  (i.e. those only accessible to staff within IP Australia),
    primarily to locate unpublished (non-OPI) material, including:
    • Parallel applications ie cases relating to similar applicant/inventor being examined by different staff.
    • AU applications by the same applicant/inventor which would be potential P, X documents.
  • external databases  (i.e. those accessible outside IP Australia),
    these databases are limited to identifying published (OPI) material including:
    • applications filed in other jurisdictions
    • OPI applications filed in Australia

Searching should be conducted efficiently. The decision as to the appropriateness of conducting these searches in individual cas(es) and the selection of the most relevant database(s) (whether internal or external as defined above, or specific choices of databases within these groups) is therefore at the discretion of the 3 PT in consideration of the specific circumstances of the case being assessed.


In deciding whether the search strategy to be adopted in a specific case should include an applicant and/or inventor name search, and if so which internal and/or external databases should be searched, a number of factors should be considered by the 3PT, including:

The date of search relative to the filing date:

Applications in which the filing date is close to the date of the search will normally require an applicant / inventor name search to be conducted on internal (non-OPI databases to identify parallel applications.  As a broad rule, where the search is conducted within 2 years of the filing date, an applicant and or inventor search of internal databases has the potential to uncover useful results and must be conducted except where one of the above exceptions apply.  Such circumstances may arise, for example, where the applicant for a national application has requested expedited examination close to the filing date.  Where the date of the search is more than 2 years after the filing date, a search of the non-OPI material is less likely to glean useful results, but should still be considered by the 3PT in the light of the specifics of the case (see below).

If there is considered to be a large time difference between filing date and search date (e.g. 5 years), a search of an internal database of Non-OPI material is unlikely to find useful material and an applicant and/or inventor search of an external database may uncover any relevant material.

Divisional applications:

In general, where a divisional application is being examined, an applicant and / or inventor search should be conducted to identify related applications based on the same parent.  Where the application under examination is one of successive divisional applications, a further factor is whether the invention is able to derive from the original priority date or not.

The known prevalence of the technology in the Australian patent literature:

A technology that is known to be common in the Australian patent literature may be more likely to glean relevant art and especially parallel application.  Whilst this information is sometimes already part of the knowledge base of experienced search examiners, the 3 PT are free to conduct a short, informal search, purely for validation. (see 4.1 Annex D)

The national source of the technology:

If the material on-file (including the specification and the correspondence) teaches that the technology in question has been developed within Australia, the likelihood of finding relevant applications via a search of the internal databases is increased.  Conversely if the available information states that the technology was recently developed outside Australia, there is increased likelihood that that any relevant material would only be present as in the Australian patent literature as a national phase entry.


Thus, where the three person team determines that the above exceptions do not apply, an applicant and/or inventor name search must be conducted, and the 3 PT shall determine the scope of the search to be conducted and the databases to be interrogated.

In determining the scope of the search, however, the 3PT should note that, to be effective, the search strategy should generally comprise, at least a search of:

1. OPI material – this requires a search of:

a. Original search strategy e.g. commercial databases,

(Many external databases provide specific fields where applicant/inventor names can be entered and searched, for instance, “Applicant(s)” or “Inventor(s)” fields in Espacenet. In EPOQUE, applicant/inventor names may be searched with field qualifiers /PA and /IN – See Common Field Qualifiers)


b. AusPat
(see the AusPat User Guide for the applicant/inventor name search in AusPat)


​​​​​​​2. Non-OPI material – this requires a search of:

a. PAMS NOSE (national applications),

(See Searching for the applicant/inventor name search in PAMS NOSE (Non-OPI Search Engine))


b. INTESS (PCT applications)

(see Other Searches for the applicant/inventor name search in INTESS)

The following table summarises capabilities of different search tools for examiners to consider when deciding which tool(s) to use for an Applicant and/or Inventor search for National/PCT applications.

Auto Preliminary Search ToolPAMS NOSEINTESSEPOQUE/Espace net/Google Patents
Applicant/Inventor name search of National OPI applicationsYESNONOYES
Applicant/Inventor name search of PCT OPI applicationsYESNONOYES
Applicant/Inventor name search of National Non-OPI applicationsYESYESNONO
Applicant/Inventor name search of PCT Non-OPI applicationsYESNOYESNO
Search results rank by relevanceYESNONOYES
Refine search results using keywords in titleAvailable for OPI search onlyYESNOYES
Refine search results using keywords in SpecificationAvailable for OPI search onlyYESNOYES
Refine search results using IPC symbolsYESYESNOYES
Refine search results using CPC symbolsAvailable for OPI search onlyNONOYES

See also

The recording of these searches in the SIS should comply with the guidance provided in 4.1 Annex D.

Back to top