Despite the proliferation of open access patent databases over the last ten years, chemists and life scientists have found it difficult to search for patents related to chemical compounds. This is largely due to the fact that patent offices do not index their patents by chemical name, structure, registry number, etc. Although the USPC and IPC have extensive chemisty classifications, many chemists find patent classification difficult to use and of limited value.
There have been recent unsuccessful attempts to incorporate patent data into open access chemistry databases. Several years ago, the American Chemical Society, which publishes Chemical Abstracts, pressured the NIH to drop plans to integrate patent data into the agency's PubChem database of small molecules.
Researchers now have a new way to find patent information related to chemical substances. ChemSpider(Beta), a new open access chemistry database and federated search engine released in March of this year, recently added patent data from U.S., European and Asian patent offices. Users can search more than 16.5 million chemical compounds in ChemSpider by structure, property, and various indentifiers including systematic name, synonym, trade name, registry number, SMILES or InChI.
For example, the ChemSpinder record for the arthritis drug Celebrex, links to 382 related U.S. patents as compared to 9 patents listed in the FDA's Orange Book. The Orange Book only includes patent data for unexpired patents.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.