Report:Espacenet/Search Interface/The Search Forms/Introduction
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The Search Forms
There are four web forms from which the Espacenet databases may be queried: Quick Search, Advanced Search, Number Search, and SmartSearch. A link on the main page called "Classification Search" is not a patent search form; it searches a catalog of ECLA class definitions, which can assist users who wish to conduct a search with ECLA codes.
The following sections will cover each of these search forms in more detail.
Unlike many subscription search services, Espacenet is very honest and open about its limitations, some of which are actually self-imposed to avoid competition with commercial vendors. It even provides a list of limitations in its help guide. The self-reported Espacenet limitations that pertain to the search forms include:
- The search engine limits search terms to 10 per field, 20 total per search
- Search terms in the abstract must be in English
- Default operator when combining search fields is AND, and cannot be changed
- There are limits on the allowable truncation, and no left-hand truncation is permitted (see the Truncation Operators section of this article for more information)
- The EP database does not permit ECLA searching
A planned enhancement was noted in an April 2008 issue of Patent Information News which described the possible removal of some limitations. Recent updates to Espacenet in 2010 and 2011 did remove some limitations, such as raising the limit of terms per field to 10 and permitting abstract searching in both the EP and PCT databases. See the Major Recent Updates section for more information about other planned changes.
- ↑ EPO Data News." Patent Information News, Vol 01/08: page 10 (April 2008), http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/D5E8D2898C6D2858C1257417003FA136/$File/Patentinfo_news_0801_en.pdf (accessed July 24, 2008).