To extend your search, you can use truncation symbols (wildcards) to include, for example, the plural form of a word, or alternative spellings.

There are three different wildcard characters available:

  • * - stands for a string of characters of any length (standard sign for truncation in internet)
  • ? - stands for zero or one character
  • # - stands for exactly one character

For example, to find patents having in the title the word car or cars, type car? in the title field.

There are a number of restrictions on the use of wildcards in particular:

  • Wildcards cannot be followed by an alphanumeric character (colo?r is not allowed)
  • Wildcards can only be used in the "Title ", "Title or abstract ", "Inventor "or "Applicant " fields
  • There must be at least two alphanumeric characters preceding a ? or # symbol (for example co? or pa#). A maximum of three truncation symbols is then allowed (for example ca??? will retrieve call, cart, card, care, cable, etc.)
  • If three or more alphanumeric characters precede a ? or # symbol, then a maximum of 7 truncation symbols is allowed
  • There must be at least three alphanumeric characters preceding a * symbol (co* is not allowed).

Please note that use of the * symbol can significantly increase the time taken for a search to be performed.

When searching in the "application number ", "priority number ", and "publication number " fields, you can retrieve all the documents having a particular country code simply by entering the country code (eg GB) in the number field.

In the European classification field, you may only use the * after the IPC full classification symbol (eg B65D81/32*).

In the IPC field, you should not use wildcards as the data is autoposted, meaning that each symbol is indexed at different levels. For example: B (section level), B65 (class level), B65D (subclass level), B65D81 (group level), B65D81/32 (full classification).