Google Patent US File Wrapper Download of US6932368 – Apparatus for Harnessing Wind to Drive a Bicycle

This is the third blog post on using the US Public PAIR system for analyzing the prosecution history of patent applications. The first post introduced the infographic I put together summarizing the key components of the system and suggesting some areas to focus on when considering the potential value of a patent document. The second post provided an example of using Public PAIR to analyze a specific example patent of interest. Finally, this post will provide a method for taking Public PAIR data which can be downloaded from Google and packaging it in such a way that it can be shared with clients interested in the analysis performed.

The image above was taken from the Google Patents page associated with the ‘368 patent I used as an example of how to look at PAIR data.  Just below the listing of the IPC codes you can see that there are three links to USPTO data associated with this patent. The first one allows you to view the document at the USPTO site, which seems a tad redundant considering where you are being directed from. The second provides a direct link to the USPTO Assignment Database which can be quite useful but is not all that earth shattering. The last link however, the one that says Download USPTO Public PAIR data, is very useful indeed and I will show you how I take this data and provide a nice little spreadsheet which summarizes the data.

When you click on the link, a folder, named after the application number, will be downloaded to your computer. The contents of this folder can be found in the image below:

Top level file contents for the download associated with application number 10/816446

The tab separated values (TSV) files correspond to the tabs that a user would see if they logged into Public PAIR and looked at this patent using that system. There is also a folder which corresponds to the Image File Wrapper tab since this contains the corresponding TSV file for that portion of the site as well as copies of all of the documents which can be downloaded. An image of the contents of the Image File Wrapper folder is below:

Contents of Image File Wrapper Folder for the ‘368 patent

Having all of this data in one place and locally accessible without going back to Public PAIR is excellent but as downloaded it could use a bit of finessing to put it into a format that might be useful for sharing with a client. I do the following to create a single spreadsheet with a new Overview tab to share the important details with the people I am working with.

TSV files can be worked with using any spreadsheet program but in this case I am using Microsoft Excel for the Mac to put together the final document. Since the Application Data is the first tab on the Public PAIR site I start with this TSV file by opening it in Excel (normally just double-clicking on the file will open Excel automatically depending on the application mappings saved on your computer). When first opened the file looks like this:

Raw TSV output from Google of Application Tab from Public PAIR

At this point I resize the columns so all the data is readable in a cell without word wrapping and I highlight the key pieces of information I would like to share with the client. The image below shows the results of this step where I have highlighted the Application Number, Filing or 371 (c) Date, Patent Number, and Title. I would have also highlighted the Earliest Publication Number as well except that this patent did not have one.

Application Data Tab in Spreadsheet after value added processing of key pieces of information

I rename the tab Application Data, open a new tab in the spreadsheet and I open up the next TSV file. Once again, I resize the columns but this time I copy the data and paste it into the new tab I created in the original spreadsheet which has my finished Application Data tab. To process the data in the new tab I highlight the critical pieces of information, rename the tab, and open the next one. I even created a tab for Continuity Data in this case even though there was no corresponding TSV file for it. On this tab in my spreadsheet I recored that there was no parent or child continuity associated with the patent.

Once I have all of the data in separate tabs, highlighted and in a single spreadsheet I am ready to create a final Overview tab where I copy all of the highlighted data from each of the sections and provide it in one place. An image of the final Overview tab for the ‘368 patent is below:

Finished Overview Tab created for file wrapper associated for ‘368 patent

The final output Excel file is attached and can be download for use as an example.


For those of you who are really ambitious you can also consider creating links to the actual PDF files available in the Image File Wrapper folder in the Image File Wrapper tab. This can be done using the hyperlink function in Excel but depending on your computing environment you may have to tell your client to keep your summary spreadsheet in the same folder as the Image File Wrapper folder and keep both of them in a specific location on their hard drive such as on the desktop. I will leave it to the readers to decide if they want to go through the trouble of building this functionality into the spreadsheet.

I should also mention that not all patents have the download Public PAIR data link associated with them. Clearly, the applications with file wrappers which are not electronically available don’t have this data but strangely some documents which are electronically available still don’t have this link available. Hopefully, Google will have all the electronically available files ready soon but for now your mileage may vary but this method of presenting the data is still helpful when its an option.

I also noticed while I was updating this post that it looks as if Google is changing its page format again. An image of a brand new patent added to their system is below:

New format for Google Patents pages

I especially like that there is now a switch at the top to move between the corresponding pre-grant application and this patent and that they now recognize when there is a European equivalent for it. Nicely done!

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