Redesigning Patent Database

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McNair Project
Redesigning Patent Database
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Project Information
Project Title Redesigning Patent Database
Owner Shelby Bice
Start Date 201701
Deadline 201705
Keywords Database, Patent
Primary Billing
Has project status Active
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Documentation on the process and eventual designs for the new patent database. Not to be confused with "Patent Data Restructure", which deals with condensing and cleaning USPTO assignees data.

Deliverables by end of semester: Design and build new patent database with core tables from data, add tables from Patent Data Restructure and Small Inventors Project, write thorough documentation on schema of new patent database and instructions on what documentation should be written when it is altered

TODO on 4/13/2017 Keep working on updating patent data

  • How to parse patent data
  • How to parse assignment data
  • Also update documentation as I go

Redesigning Patent Database

  • Design a better representation for database
  • Fix scripts if necessary
  • Start moving data into new database by querying existing databases (using SQL)
  • Use scripts to query new data
  • Test database
  • Remove extraneous information from database (copies, patents that we're not interested in, etc.)

Documentation I need to include:

  • Schema of new database (with justification of design), would like to include a visual representation
  • SQL commands that were used to fill database with explanation of what they do
  • Clear instructions on where to find scripts in bulk drive and an explanation of what each script does
  • Visual representation of example table entries that isn't just copied and pasted from a CSV file

Related Projects

Documentation Relevant to Current Patent Database

Previous documentation on the patent database:

As of 3/21/2017 the most up-to-date database containing patent data is "patent" not "allpatent" or "allpatent_clone" and "patent" is the database that the the other patent data redesign project, Restructuring Patent Data (link above) is working with.

Patent Data - overview of what the data is and where it came from, probably starting point for changing documentation

Patent Database - overview of schema of database (specifically, the database patent, which includes data from Harvard dataverse (originally stored in patentdata) and USPTO (patent_2015)

USPTO Assignees Database - enhances assignee info in patent database, also being redesigned

Problems with Patent Database - lists issues with current schema

Previous ER Diagram - does not match up with schema described in Patent Database and contains outdated list of what we want to pull from XML files

Processing Patent Data - states that allpatent is the newest database and an amalgamation of patentdata or patent_2015


The purpose of this project is to create a new, redesigned database to hold all of the patent information that the McNair Center has accumulated and document the process so that the design can be easily understood and replicated or edited as needed.

This database will include design patents, utility patents, and reissues.


Design will be built upon a relational database model. I will be referencing this article on database design as I develop the design (, and I will be creating an ER diagram using ERDPlus or Creately.

Current Design and Scripts Documentation

The scripts for querying data for the patent database exist in McNair/software/scripts/patent. If the design for the schema of the database tables are altered too much, may have to write new scripts.

The following pages are relevant to how previous databases are built/how to build tables in the database:

Harvard Dataverse Data - explains how to make tables from Harvard Dataverse data, where to find scripts, etc.

USPTO Data - explains how to make tables from USPTO data, where to find scripts, etc, specifically for assignment data.

Patent Data Extraction - explains locations of XML files and lists (at the bottom) where the Perl scripts can be found

Patent Data Cleanup - explains changes that were made to clean up problems in the database allpatent as a result of merging the Harvard Dataverse data and the USPTO data

Patent Data Processing - SQL Steps - explains SQL needed to merge two existing databases, one that contained the Harvard Dataverse data and one that contained the USPTO data

Here at the instructions I'm developing for downloading, parsing, and hopefully adding new data to the database since the documentation is very sparse (can also be found under McNair/Projects/Redesigning Patent Database/Instructions on how to download patent data form USPTO bulk data.

How to run Perl Scripts to extract Patent Data

1) If you're on a Mac and you'd like to run this from your terminal, you can map the network drive to your computer (instructions can be found under Help for New Staff scroll down to the "Working with the infrastructure and click on the link to "How to Map the network drive) 2) If you're really curious about how to install and run perl programs, see this link ( However, perl is already installed for you to use. Just open a command line and type perl to run a perl program (but you need to get onto the bulk drive and change directories to the appropriate directory to run perl scripts you need to download patent-related data - see below for how to do that). 3) Now it's time to download the data so it can be parsed.

For the Main Patent Data

The equivalent for patent data is called "USPTO_Parser" and can be found under



  • You may need to fix the base url in the script. The USPTO has changed it before. It is currently:
  • Instead of taking a text file containing a url, as the USPTO_Assignee Download does, it takes two arguments, year 1 and year2, which are supposed to represent the range of data that you wish to download (for example, 2015 to 2016).
  • The perl script places the downloaded zip files into "E:/McNair/PatentData/name" where "name" is the name of the zip file.
  • The folder "Processed" under McNair/PatentData appears to hold all the unzipped zip files that have been downloaded and processed already. So if you are curious if some files have already been processed, you could look there. They are organized by year.

Now to actually run the scripts:

Open a command line or powershell
cd .\McNair\Software\Scripts\Patent
perl 2016 2017

Note the zip files should appear briefly (sequentially) in E:/McNair/Software/Scripts/Patent before disappearing and reappearing unzipped in E:/McNair/PatentData

3b) Now we need to split the files into individual, valid xml files. To do this:

Move the files to be split into E:/McNair/PatentData/Queue
Run the command: 
Each file will then be blown out into a directory of xml files in E:/McNair/PatentData/Processed

4) The next step would be to parse the actual files.

For the patent data files, based on the existing documentation, it looks like PatentParser, found in McNair/Software/Scripts/Patent, has to be run on each xml file that was downloaded and unzipped during the previous step. (For future updates to the perl files, we should update this script so that it can be run on a directory of files like the parser for USPTO assignment data).

  • It then stores the parsed xml files all in a text file called "Results.txt" (which I assume will have to be deleted afterward). This script utilizes the,,, and modules.
  • It no longer uses the module.
  • If we have a perl module for getting the inventor, why do we not have an inventors table in the database? THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION!

5) This parser will open an ODBC (or similar) connection to a database on the RDP's installation of postgres. It will then put the data directly into this database. Once complete. we manually move the tables to the dbase server's database (i.e. patent).

For the USPTO Assignment Data

For USPTO Assignment Data, there is a script, under McNair/usptoAssignment, called USPTO_Assignee_Download, which lets a user pass it a text file (file ending in.txt) which contains the url(s) of the assignment data that needs to be downloaded. The script then downloads all the zip files available at that URL. An example called BaseUrls.txt (containing the url that you will probably be using to download the assignment data, unless you're downloading the data from this currrent year, which is in a different link) can be found in McNair/usptoAssignment It then places the downloaded zip files in "E:/McNair/usptoAssigneeData/name", where "name" is the name of the file. If you want to check which files have already been processed, check "McNair/usptoAssigneeData/Finished" to see the finished zip files. (In the future, this should be updated, if possible to specify which years to download, since all assignment data that is not from this current year is under one url, and we've already downloaded most of it.)

Then, to parse the actual files, do the following:

For the USPTO Assignment Data, the parsing file is called USPTO_Assignee_XML_parser. It takes the path to the files that need to be parsed (an example would be ":E/McNair/Files_to_process" where "Files_to_process" is the name of the folder you've placed the xml files to be parsed. It iterates through all the files in the "year" directory that you passed. This file directly loads the information into the database while it parses the file.

For the USPTO Maintenance Fee Data

Download the file manually from replace existing file in McNair/Patent Data/Maintenance Fee Data.

Specifications of USPTO Data To Extract

Go to to bulk data from USPTO.

To see a description of what each file the USPTO bulk data contains, go to the bulk drive and navigate to McNair/Projects/Redesigning Patent Database/2017BulkDataProductDescriptions. This gives an overview, but does not explain how the XML files are structured. Those are the DTDs.

For assignment data, we pull from A description of all the elements in an USPTO assignment XML file is called a DTD, and the one for the assignment data can be found in the bulk drive under McNair/Project/Redesigning Patent Database/USPTO Assignment DTD

I'm currently looking at the DTsD for USPTO patent data (2005 and up DTDs have to be opened by Microsoft Visual Studio) to ascertain if there are any fields we're not currently pulling from the bulk data that we should. I am using the following link to figure out how to read a DTD: There are only DTDs for 2005 and up, but there is a very long pdf that appears to detail the format of patent files pre - 2005. It has been saved under McNair/Projects/Redesigning Patent Database/

Pre - 2005

According to the documentation, the inventor's name and city are required to be listed, and the street, state, and country of the inventor may also be listed.

USPTO pre - 2005 inventors data description.png

Paragraphs of abstract may also be listed under logical group "Abstract" in a field called "abstract":

USPTO pre-2005 abstract data format.png

2005 - present

The USPTO patent data for 2005 seems to include multiple paragraphs for the abstract under an element called "abstract". I've included the line from the DTD below:

<!ELEMENT abstract (doc-page+ | (abst-problem , abst-solution) | p+)>


An abstract is required to be included for all patents that are not design patents, and according to the DTD must have at least one paragraph element.

As far as inventors go, it looks like for 2005 - up patents, the inventor is simply the applicant. this is copied from the DTD:

<!ELEMENT applicant (addressbook+ , nationality , residence , us-rights* , designated-states? , designated-states-as-inventor?)>

<!ATTLIST applicant sequence CDATA #REQUIRED app-type (applicant | applicant-inventor ) #REQUIRED designation (all | all-except-us | us-only | as-indicated ) #REQUIRED >

If for some reason the inventor could not be the applicant, this element would contain the inventor:

<!ELEMENT inventor (addressbook+ , designated-states?)>

<!ATTLIST inventor sequence CDATA #REQUIRED designation (all | all-except-us | us-only | as-indicated ) #IMPLIED >

<!ELEMENT inventors (inventor | deceased-inventor)+>

It seems that we have already pulled patent abstracts before with the existing scripts. I found a huge word document with abstracts under McNair/Software/Scripts/Patent/Abstracts_2016.

Test Plan


2/16/2017 - Talked over project with Ed, began reading existing wiki pages related to patent data and databases

2/21/2017 - Brushed up on SQL, Entity - Relationship model of designing databases

  • In the documentation, I want to briefly explain what the entity-relationship model is before including

the diagram so that readers have a little bit of background

  • Found a tool for creating a visual representation called - create a standalone instead of an account, can download

Learning commands from Patent Data - SQL Steps

  • copy command is PostgreSQL that copies a SQL table to a text file
    • DELIMITER set what will separate columns in text file
    • HEADER specifies that there will be a header in the text file with the names of the columns
  • Definitely need to include more detail about what these do in the documentation
  • insert into command inserts a new entry into the table

2/23/2017 - Read great database design article, dug through some more wiki articles, started reviewing Perl

  • What client do we use to interact with the current patent database?
  • Will need to determine all the fields that need to be included in the database before finishing the design and ER diagram, will need Ed's input

3/2/2017 - Started compiling a list of what fields to include and how they would be related.

  • Created an Excel spreadsheet that records the each table, their current attributes in the existing patentdata table, what I think the attributes should be in the new table, their relationship to a patent (i.e. one-to-many, many-to-many, etc.), their primary key, questions I have relating to the table, future steps for cleaning up the data in the table (i.e., once all the data has been move to the new database, removing patents that are not US-based), and current problems that have been recorded with the existing table for that information (if an existing table exists)
  • Once Excel spreadsheet is completed (and questions in the Questions column are answered or removed from the spreadsheet entirely) I will look into trying to embed it on my "Redesigning Patent Database" wiki page so that future users can sort of follow my thought process. I will also create separate wiki pages to explain each table once the new database is created
  • Making spreadsheet led me to realize there is some data that is repeated (filedate in fee table when it is also located in patent table, and the fee table includes the patent

3/7/2017 - Continued working on spreadsheet, update project page with relevant links, developed following plan for documentation

  • Most important thing for new documentation in my opinion is a clear flow, i.e., one central page on the database, which contains links to the following:
    • Where data is (patent data) where it came from (Harvard Dataverse, etc), the scripts/SQL used to obtain the data, and where original xml files can be located
    • Next, there should be an ER diagram that shows the general design, followed by short descriptions of each table is, what it's related to, and what it's use is
    • Each table should contain a link to a separate wiki page on the table which will explain all the columns, where the data came from, provide a visual example of data in the table, list issues, and also contain a log of what has been done to the table over time
    • there should also be instructions on the page for how, if someone is going to change the database (add a table, alter a column, etc.) which documentation they should update (the wikipage for the table, for example)
    • Links to USPTO Assignee Database with an explanation of how it is joined with the Patent Database
    • Lastly, everything should be dated. I know that each wiki-page lists when it was last edited, but the main page, next to table descriptions, should have the date the table was originally added. The ER diagram should be updated as needed and also dated so that readers know if it's the most current representation of the database.

3/9/2017 - Finished up first draft of spreadsheet, found ER diagram tools

  • Old ER diagram (see Documentation Relevant to Current Databases) is difficult to read - it appears to show tables that don't exist and data that doesn't exist in the current schema
  • psql allpatent does not work. psql allpatent_clone does for some reason

3/21/2017 - Working on determining "core" tablse that will always be in database and understanding work on assignees info

3/23/2017 - Made spreadsheet with core tables and share it with other people working on patent data to get their approval

4/4/2017 - Found all the pages on extracting data and making tables and databases

  • Do not need to pull Harvard Dataverse data again, it's saved in CSV files on the bulk drive
  • Started looking through DTDs for USPTO patent and assignment data to determine if there is extra information that we should extract from USPTO data.