Report:Espacenet/Viewing Results/Viewing Patent Drawings

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Viewing Patent Drawings

There are three kinds of images available in Espacenet: representative drawing images, drawing mosaics, and document facsimile images.

The representative thumbnail image that sometimes appears in the bibliographic data section, next to the document abstract. This image is only loaded into the database for publications from PCT minimum documentation countries, and it is not available for every record from those countries. Where it is available, it is included with the bibliographic data as a representative drawing to help the user decide whether to investigate the document in-depth.


A thumbnail image next to the document abstract in the bibliographic data section. Thumbnail images are only available for publications covered by the PCT minimum documentation rules.


The “Mosaics” section hosts patent drawing mosaics. Drawing mosaics are collections of patent drawings that have been reduced in size: six reduced mosaic images fit onto a single page. This is a unique data product created by the EPO and hosted by Espacenet. Many commercial patent search services (such as PatBase and QPAT) provide links from their document records directly to these Espacenet mosaics. Mosaic pages can be printed, downloaded, and saved in PDF format, just like a full document copy. (However, they are not part of the document, which is why they appear under a separate section from the document image itself). Mosaics are not available for all documents in the system.

When mosaics are available, they are loaded in an Adobe Acrobat Viewer window. The figure below shows an example. According to system help files, viewing document images requires at least Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 7, and a Windows platform is recommended.


A drawings mosaic.


Like document facsimile images, mosaics are hosted on the Espacenet servers as single pages, and mosaics must be viewed one page at a time. Although it is now possible to save or print full document copies from Espacenet, it is not yet possible to save or print all pages of a mosaic at once; these functions must be performed for mosaics on a page-by-page basis. If the user selects the "Download" icon above the mosaic, the entire patent document will download. The user must choose the "Print" icon in order to download a mosaic page into PDF format or print the page.

Finally, Espacenet hosts complete PDF document images (when available) under the “Original Document” tab. The European Patent office’s goal is to include a facsimile document copy for every record in the database, and at the time of this writing it already has a vast collection. When the system is missing an original for a particular record, it usually makes the image of a corresponding equivalent document available instead.


The Original Document section showing a PDF copy of the source publication.


Above the Original Document section, several links appear: Print, Maximise, and Download. First, the “Print” link can be used to print the current document page. Just as documents in Espacenet can only be viewed page-by-page from the viewer, they can only be printed one page at a time from the web site. The complete document can only be printed by first downloading the full PDF copy, which is discussed further below.

The “Maximise” link serves to load the document copy so that it appears over almost the entire screen. The purpose of this feature is to give users the ability to review the document in-depth, and to see the drawings in detail, by magnifying it so that it is easier to read. Both the normal and maximised views also contain a drop-down menu that allows users to skip to specific pages or various parts (description, claims, etc.) of the document. An example of the maximized view is shown below.


A patent document displayed in the maximized viewing window.


The system will also allow users to download free PDF patent copies. To save or print a copy of an original document, users can select the “Download” link that appears on the top right of the screen.

Currently, The "Save Full Document" feature is only available for documents up to 500 pages for EP documents, and 250 pages for all other documents; larger documents can only be downloaded page-by-page. Additionally, the saving feature was introduced with a barrier that prevents non-sanctioned applications from downloading patent copies in bulk. To accomplish this, the system requires users to verify that they are individuals by manually entering a series of characters.


A verification step is required before a bulk download can take place.


editors note iconEditor's Note:

One major advantage of the Espacenet system is that it provides free document image copies. After an October 2008 update increased document page limits from 50 to 500 for EP documents and 250 for other documents, this feature became even more valuable. However, saving documents over this page limit via the page-by-page method is not practical, so Espacenet users still have something further to wish for: unlimited downloading capabilities. In addition, the inability to save or print mosaic drawing files is still a limitation of the system.

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