Automatically Completing Your PDF Forms – Part I

Note: If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro, there is an alternative method that you may find easier than the method I discuss below. If you are interested, let me know by comment or by email (see email address in the footer) and I’ll add a related post directed to Acrobat Pro users.

If you are familiar with software engineering, then you may have heard of the DRY principle: Don’t Repeat Yourself.

There are some PDF forms that we use over and over. Often times, the information we enter into the forms has already been entered elsewhere. For example, consider an Application Data Sheet. It’s likely that much of the information has already been entered into your docketing system. Wouldn’t it be great if you could enter this information one time, and then re-use it every time you need it instead of typing the same information over and over?

Good news: you can. You may already be familiar with using your database to complete word processing documents using mail merge. But what about PDF forms? More good news: PDF forms can complete themselves! They can do this by importing data into the form. By the way, this process works with both Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat.
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Search’n’Save Updates

Over the past week or so I’ve been working on upgrades for the Search’n’Save website, and yesterday I added some of the new code to the live site.

If you haven’t used Search’n’Save, give it a try. It’s a simple website that let’s you do Google searches and set aside results that you want to keep. You can perform multiple searches (in the left column) and your saved links stay right there where you pinned them (in the right column). All links to search results open in new windows so that your saved results stay right where you left them while you scan the websites, patents, books, blogs, etc. that come up in your search results. When you are finished searching, you can copy/paste your saved results into your own document (e.g., for reporting search results to a client, citing art to the USPTO, etc.). I plan to add an export feature in the future, but for now the copy/paste option works okay.

The most apparent new features added over the weekend are the new delete links in the saved results:

 

 

 

There is also a new “clear all” link that will clear all of your saved results:

 

 

 

 

For those interested in the code, behind the scenes the javascript code was revised to use jquery. This should make it easier to add additional features such as the new delete buttons added over the weekend.

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Google Patents Search – Tips and Tricks

Google Patents

Image via Wikipedia

Google introduced it’s patent search site several years ago, and it quickly became one of the websites that I visit most frequently. It’s very useful for research, patent searching, and getting pdf copies of patents. Here are a few tips and tricks for using Google’s patent search site.

Link directly to a patent or patent application publication

You can link directly to any patent or patent application publication at “http://www.google.com/patents/USxxxxxxx” where “xxxxxxx” is the patent or publication number. Note that this is case-sensitive, so everything after /patents/ must be all-caps.

Here are some examples:

US Patent No. 7,654,321: http://www.google.com/patents/US7654321

US Patent Application Publication No. 2011/0000001: http://www.google.com/patents/US20110000001

US Design Patent No. D454,321: http://www.google.com/patents/USD454321

Link directly to PDF of a patent or patent application publication

You can link directly to a PDF any patent or patent application publication at “http://www.google.com/patents/USxxxxxxx.pdf” where “xxxxxxx” is the patent or publication number. Note that this is case-sensitive, so everything after /patents/ must be all-caps.

Here are some examples:

US Patent No. 7,654,321: http://www.google.com/patents/US7654321.pdf

US Patent Application Publication No. 2011/0000001: http://www.google.com/patents/US20110000001.pdf

US Design Patent No. D454,321: http://www.google.com/patents/USD454321.pdf

Include Similar Key Words, Exclude Others

You can instruct Google to include similar terms by adding a tilde (~) to the beginning of the search term. For example, compare the results you get for “phone” to the results you get for “~phone”:

Search for phone

Search for ~phone

The tilde operator actually works with any Google search, and can be useful to broaden your search results to include similar results that you may have otherwise missed. On the other hand, you can also narrow your search by instructing Google to exclude certain word by including a dash (-) before the term, e.g., “lamp -halogen” would exclude halogen lamps from your search results.

Digging Deeper into the Patent History – Downloading PAIR Data

Google can also provide a copy of the “file wrapper” for many patents and published applications. A file wrapper is a file created by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office while a patent is pending, and generally includes many documents related to the patent application such as the original application and correspondence (e.g., rejections, amendments, etc.) between the Patent Office and the Applicant.

The file wrapper provided by Google is actually part of a zip file you will get that also includes other data from public PAIR, such as application data, attorney/agent information, patent term adjustment, etc. For those unfamiliar, public PAIR is the public Patent Application Information Retrieval service provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

You can access the PAIR/File Wrapper zip file by modifying the following link. Just replace “APP_NUM” with the 8-digit application number of a patent/patent publication (omitting the slash and comma).

http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/uspto-pair/applications/APP_NUM.zip

For example, to retrieve the PAIR/File Wrapper for U.S. Patent No. 7,654,321, which issued from Application No. 11/616,583, use the following link:

http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/uspto-pair/applications/11616583.zip

The zip file will contain a directory of .tsv files, which are tab-delimited text files that can be imported into a spreadsheet or opened with a text editor or word processor. There will also be a directory called image_file_wrapper, which contains electronic copies of the contents of the patent application’s file wrapper in pdf format.

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