DOCDB – putting a square peg in a round hole

PART III – publication kind codes and using ST.30 tags

You can use the kind code concordance list (or "list" for short) to aggregate and analyse publication kind codes and ST.30 tags to determine their status effectively and avoid gaps in the data. The list also enables you to use these codes to sort and filter EPO datasets containing more than 146 million bibliographic records dating back to the 1700s. Here, we'll give you the know-how to display what you're looking for quickly and accurately in the PUBLNR (publication number) and ST30_Pub_availibility (ST.30 tag) worksheets of the list. We'll also show you where you can find useful information on the meaning of the different codes and, more importantly and in exceptional cases, how to extract the status.

Contrary to what you might think, patent information data doesn't just contain the familiar A-B, U-Y or D and S publication codes. In fact, almost the entire alphabet is used for the different publications in the bibliographic datasets. This is important to know as you will not only find all these publication kind codes in the list, but also newly created or amended ones. These have been prepared in advance and are waiting for the corresponding data to be delivered to the EPO – in other words, they are visible in the list but not yet used or publicly available in EPO products and services.

In general, the information in the list is sufficient – you can see the country and country code, the WIPO ST.16 code and some EPO internal document kind codes, the DOCDB number formats used "until 31.12.1999" and "as from 01.01.2000" and the type (or description) of the document. Not to forget that document kind codes, e.g. the A and B codes, usually provide enough information on their own. Nevertheless, especially for older publications, you might still have to combine a kind code with a so called ST.30 tag as a workaround.

Here's an exceptional case using the ST.30 tag, and with the publication "FR1043" in Espacenet as an example. This is an older document dating back to 1962 and with kind code M.

Espacenet Bibliographic data image 1
Fig. 1. Publication FR1043 in Espacenet. (click on the image to enlarge)

Looking at the bibliographic data, you can see that this is a publication from France. But what kind of publication is it? Is it related to a disclosed or granted publication, or is it even a correction? If it's a correction, then what kind of correction? Is it a publication for a patent or for some other type of IP?

If you look up FR M in the PUBLNR worksheet of the list, you'll find very little information and no description.

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Fig. 2. Extract from the kind code concordance list publication worksheet. (click on the image to enlarge)

If the description is unclear, ambiguous or missing, as is the case here, we recommend you check the ST30_Pub availability worksheet in the list. This can help you identify the date and status of the publication at the time the document was published (using for example the unexamined-printed-without-grant and printed-with-grant dates – see image below).

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Fig. 3. ST30_Pub availability worksheet. (click on the image to enlarge)

Here, when you look up FR M, you'll find a reference to the ST.30 tag 450.

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Fig. 4. Indication of FR M ST.30 tag. (click on the image to enlarge)

This WIPO ST.30 tag denotes a "printed-with-grant" publication. 

450 printed-with-grant date of publication by printing or similar process of document on which grant has taken place on or before the said date 
Extract of description from ST30_Pub availability worksheet in list for tag 450.

So, in the case of FR M, the date is the publication date of the granted document.

In summary, if you search for a granted or any other type of publication in DOCDB-based tools and find that the kind code information is insufficient, remember to check the ST.30 tags. Simply use the 450 tag or the "printed-with grant" description to filter the DOCDB XML and to display only the part of the collection you want, and without missing out any document kind codes.

Remember to always cross-check the ST.30 tags in the concordance list (see figure 3. above). This is because codes may evolve with time as a result of changes to patent law that impact the data. As you can see in the example below, the A kind code was once tag 450, "Granted patent", but then changed status and "from 01.07.1968 onwards" has been tag 410, "Patent application made available to the public".

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Fig. 5. Changes over time to the Finnish A kind code ST.30 tag. (click on the image to enlarge)

For more recent publications and collections published according to WIPO standards, it is the INID Code that identifies the ST.30 tag for "date of public availability". For example, INID Code 45 corresponds to ST.30 tag 450.

Don't miss out on part IV – the last in our series on exotic kind codes – when we'll dig deeper into ST.30 tags. You'll also discover important background information and find out about the EPO internal "A" tags that complement WIPO tags.

Further information

: ST.30 tags, publication kind codes, INID Codes, WIPO ST.16

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