On July 8, Teresa Stanek Rea, Acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), announced on her official blog the launch of the Global Patent Search Network (“GPSN”).

The GPSN is the result of a cooperative effort between the USPTO and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”). Users of the GPSN will be able to search full text Chinese patent documents and English machine translations, thus enabling searches in both English and Chinese. The initial database of documents will include published applications, granted patents, and utility models dated from 2008 to 2011. The database will be periodically updated. In addition, the USPTO anticipates the network will expand to include patent documentation from other foreign intellectual property offices.

The GPSN is accessible through the USPTO website. As the original content of the data is provided by the SIPO, the USPTO does not take responsibility for the content. In addition, one should be aware of the limitations of machine translations; it is possible that the English translations may not always be accurate.

According to Rea, the GPSN “will be a valuable tool for improving search quality and comprehensiveness in today’s global IP market.” Indeed, the GPSN will likely be a good starting point for inventors and patent practitioners in conducting prior art searches, but users should be mindful of the current limitations and potential translation accuracy issues of this search network. When more thorough searches or searches for Chinese patents pre-dating 2008 are required, it is advisable for inventors and practitioners to seek alternative search sources including commercial search services and databases.

James J. Kang is an Apprentice in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department. Robert E. Rudnick, a Director in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department, co-authored this post.