Importance of Conducting Patent Searches in the Original Language


 When performing a patent search, especially for foreign countries, the question arises whether to use the original language or rely on machine translation.

While it may seem convenient to construct search formulas in English and employ machine translation, there are significant advantages to conducting searches in the local language.

This approach minimizes the risk of overlooking crucial patents, attributed to potential issues with translation quality or the optimization of local databases.


Case Study

To illustrate the impact, I conducted a sample search on "using artificial intelligence in autonomous vehicle braking systems."

The comparison involved using the local language (Japanese) through JP-NET and machine translation of English via Patbase.

The local language search (1) yielded 150 hits, whereas the machine translation (2) resulted in only 86 hits—nearly half of the results obtained by the local search.

Below are the search formulas in Patbase for reference.


#1: SPUB=(ATAC=(brake or braking) AND ATAC=(artificial or neural or learning or training or algorithm*) AND ATAC=(autonomous or self_driv* or driverless) AND CC=(JP))

#2: SPUB=(ATAC=(brake or braking) AND ATAC=(artificial or neural or learning or training or algorithm*) AND IC=(B60W60/00) AND CC=(JP))

#3: SPUB=(ATAC=(autonomous or self_driv* or driverless) AND ATAC=(brake or braking) AND IC=(G06N20/*) AND CC=(JP))


Among the hits, patents JP2019-8796A, JP7421544B and JP7340046B were identified by both search methods, emphasizing the efficacy of machine translation in covering relevant patents.

However, instances like JP7243392B, and JP7312054B, which specifically describe the use of neural networks in autonomous vehicle braking systems, were missed by the machine translation search. These patents are highly pertinent to the theme and should not be overlooked.

Additional patents, such as JP7189187B and JP2019-179372A, although not directly related to the autonomous vehicle braking system theme, offer valuable insights into technology closely associated with the subject. Including such patents in reports for reference adds depth and context to the overall understanding.

An example is JP2007-276508A, an older patent that updated its IPC to B60W60/00, which was not originally assigned. Patbase, however, does not handle such updates, leading to the exclusion of such older patents.



While machine translation is a powerful and convenient tool for obtaining rough results in foreign patent searches, it carries the inherent risk of missing important patents.

For those requiring precision in their search reports, we consistently recommend conducting searches in the local language to ensure comprehensive and accurate results.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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