Australia: AusPat ... the electrodes have been applied and the sparks are flying

Last Updated: 12 June 2011
Article by Charles Tansey and Frazer McLennan

IP Australia's full text searching shocked from the beta phase to go live.

It may be a little unfair to compare AusPat to Frankenstein's monster, but IP Australia has taken us from the days of PatAdmin with AU-A, B, C Patent Specifications attached, stitching on Patsearch, all held together with a bit of APPS, to produce the wealth of information that is AusPat, and now with access to the complete text of Australian specifications back to 1904, IP Australia have breathed life into their creation. In this article we look a little more closely at some of the newer features.

One useful feature is the ability to switch on and off the one or two line reference to the context of a text search result. Switching off provides the condensed format for the search results as seen in earlier versions of AusPat, while the default switched on view also has direct links to the relevant specification.

Specifications available through the AU-A, B, C Patent Specifications interface have been separated out into their component pieces as well as being in their complete form. These pieces: Full Document, Abstract, Description and Claims, have each been represented in new search fields. These are historical divisions of the specification and are useful for a user who is wishing to read the document, but in terms of searching there is little difference between the description and the whole document. It would be extremely rare that one would search for a reference specifically in the description and where it was relevant that it shouldn't also be found in the claims. Searching using the Full Specification field (FS) should be used in preference to the Description field (DS). The Abstract field (AB) and Claims field (CS) will be useful in helping find specific references, providing better results sets for infringement searches and in the development of complex search strategies.

There are three other text search fields available. These fields are DKA, DKB and DKC, and allow a user to search in particular document kind published by IP Australia. It is debatable whether these fields have any great utility. Using DKC may allow a user to ensure that amendments made have or have not taken a patent outside the scope of their endeavours. Likewise using DKB may be of use in restricting the set of potential results to those applications that have been sealed at some stage in their life such as for an infringement or freedom to operate search, although you may find that the Application Status field (ST) works just as well, especially in combination with the Publication Action Code (AT) where you can limit inactive statuses to a time frame to include applications such as those that ceased within the last 12 months for example. Searching within a particular document kind seems to be unnecessarily restrictive for most types of search.

During the beta phase the full text of Australian specifications from 1976 to 1999 wasn't available, which made it impossible to conduct infringement or freedom to operate searches that made use of the full capabilities of AusPat because of the requirement to go back at least 20 years (25 years for pharmaceutical cases). Now that all of the specifications are available it is likely more use will be made of these capabilities for infringement searches by removing some of the need to search full text databases that cover other jurisdictions such as the United States, and then look for Australian equivalents.

The two new operators are good additions to the text searching capabilities. Both the proximity operator "/n/" and the followed by operator "..." will allow for a more focussed search. The number of search results located will be fewer than that generated using the "AND" operator, which will enable the searcher to perform a broader search using more keywords for the same overall number of hits, or else be able to review the smaller number of hits obtained more thoroughly. It's also possible to string a number of the operators together.

A word of caution is necessary however, with the use of the followed by operator, as it also is with the use of the "NOT" operator. Relevant hits could be excluded when these operators are used. In the case of the followed by operator, by way of example, searching the claims of standard applications filed in 2007 for "water ... pump" gives 157 hits, whereas "pump ... water" gives 231. Similarly when using the "NOT" operator it may be possible to exclude a relevant hit from your search results merely because you attempted to exclude part of the prior art or some aspect of your keywords that was throwing up a large amount of irrelevant rubbish. Those operators can still be used, just use them wisely and ensure that you understand precisely what you are excluding before you do so.

AusPat has many good things going for it, and IP Australia has taken great steps to get it to this level of capability, and as such it should form part of every searcher's set of patent information tools.

AusPat may be accessed at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Charles Tansey
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.