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API - FAQs

What is PatentsView?

The PatentsView application programming interface (API) provides web developers and researchers programmatic access to longitudinal data and metadata on patents, inventors, companies, and geographic locations.

PatentsView is a prototype patent data visualization and analysis platform intended to increase the value, utility, and transparency of US patent data. The initiative is supported by the Office of Chief Economist at the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

The PatentsView platform is built on a newly developed database that longitudinally links inventors, organizations, locations, and patenting activity since 1976. The data visualization tool, query tool, and flexible API enable a broad spectrum of users to examine the dynamics of inventor patenting activity over time and space. These tools also permit users to explore technology categories, assignees, citation patterns, and co-inventor networks.

PatentsView is intended to encourage the study and enhanced understanding of the intellectual property (IP) and innovation systems; to serve as a fundamental function of the government in creating "public good" platforms in these data; and to eliminate wasteful and redundant cleaning, converting, and matching efforts necessary for individual researchers to use these data, thus freeing up researchers to do what they do best-study IP, innovation, and technological change.

The current PatentsView API is a prototype, and the team welcomes feedback on data discrepancies.

What is the ElasticSearch or "beta" API?

Starting this fall, the PatentsView team began implementing a redesign of our API to respond faster and more precisely to query calls. The best way to realize these desired effects was to write the API using ElasticSearch technology. This is a change from the prior version of the API which relied on MySQL. You may request an API key by our site form and will receive your key via email within 48 hours. Visit the API purpose page for more information on this advancement. 

Why does PatentsView rely on inventor disambiguation?

When an inventor applies for a patent, the USPTO does not require that he or she record a unique identifier. As a result, searching for all the patents associated with a specific inventor can be difficult. This is particularly true if the inventor's name is common or has multiple forms. The USPTO hosted an Inventor Disambiguation Workshop on September 24, 2015. The research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by Andrew McCallum and Nicholas Monath authored the successful algorithm that was integrated in the PatentsView data platform in March 2016. The algorithm uses discriminative hierarchical coreference as a new approach to increase the quality of PatentsView data.

Because the disambiguation of inventor identities is an ongoing effort, errors are likely to be observable in the PatentsView query results. The team welcomes feedback as we continue to improve our disambiguation methodology.

What are patent classes and technologies?

Patent classes are based primarily on the technological and functional features of inventions and are continuously updated to reflect evolving technology. Patents are classified by four distinct schemes in the PatentsView database: 1) US patent classification (USPC), 2) cooperative patent classification (CPC), 3) the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) technology categories, and 4) International patent classification (IPC). All USPC, CPC, and NBER patent classes appearing in the API results represent the current patent class, unless otherwise noted. All IPC patent classes in the PatentsView database represent the at-issue patent class.

How frequently are the data driving the API updated?

The US patent database driving the PatentsView API is updated with data from newly issued patents once every quarter. Each update integrates the most recent CPC classification released by the USPTO and applies it retrospectively to all US patents dating back to 1976. The assignee and location disambiguation algorithms are re-run on the entire database each quarter. The inventor disambiguation algorithm is updated quarterly and re-run yearly on the entire database.  

How can I send feedback on the API and data discrepancies?

The current PatentsView API is a prototype and the team welcomes all inquiries and feedback.

What are the terms of use for this API?

Currently, the MySQL version of the API does not require a key to access and the beta ElasticSearch version does require a key for access. If you would like to read more about the ElasticSearch API and request an API key, please visit the purpose page. We reserve the right to halt excessive usage of the API. Please contact us if you feel access has been unfairly restricted. The current PatentsView API is a prototype and the team cannot guarantee the accuracy of the data in the API. The team welcomes feedback on data discrepancies.

This work was created through a government contract funded by the Office of Chief Economist in the US Patent and Trademark Office. Users are free to use, share, or adapt the material for any purpose, subject to the standards of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Attribution should be given to PatentsView (www.patentsview.org) for use, distribution, or derivative works.