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What is a Classifier?

Powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques applied to patent searching

Laura Smith avatar
Written by Laura Smith
Updated over a week ago

Classifiers are a machine learning and AI approach to finding patents relating to a certain technology.

A Classifier is an algorithm trained to identify patent families belonging to a technology. This is done by giving the algorithm examples of what should fall within (positive) and outside (negative) of your technology scope.


  • Accessible: You do not need to be a patent tool or technical expert to generate reports and insights

  • Efficient: less patents need to be read by you/your team to obtain the same results

  • Versatile: Classifiers can be used to find any broad or niche technology

  • Smart: Cover your blind spots by having the system suggest patents to review

Once built, the Classifier sits in your account library and is available to use on demand. This means that it can be used repeatedly for any number of reports that you wish to generate. Below is an example of a set of classifiers. They may be broad in terms of technology scope or very narrow, depending on your exact requirements:

To determine and “learn” your definition for the technology of interest, the software evaluates claims, abstracts, keywords, citations, class-codes etc. from the patent metadata. This is different to usual forms of searching which rely on boolean and semantic searching.

The classifier can take anywhere from 1 hour to 1 day to build, depending on your subject-area knowledge and how broad or how narrow you would like the search to encompass. For example, if you wish to identify all patents related to your definition of ‘electric toothbrushes’, we need to train the algorithm using examples that fall within and outside of the technology you're defining.

Providing examples of what you are (electric hand-held device for cleaning teeth) and are not interested in (e.g. medical instruments used for oral surgery) helps the machine ‘learn’ to include/exclude them from the search. The benefit is that you don’t have to spend time thinking of all possible keywords and synonyms that could be used to describe this iteration of the technology.

How do I find and access Classifiers?

Classifiers will be included as part of your account if:

  • You have a custom taxonomy of classifiers that have been built for you, or for your organisation

  • You have access to the Universal Technology Taxonomy

  • You are an n/d subscriber and have access to the AST taxonomy

  • You have access to the classifier builder

  • A colleague has transferred classifiers into your account

You can apply classifiers to a report from the Report Wizard, the Custom Builder, and also via the Global Landscape report tile.

In each of the report types available to you via the Report Wizard, you'll be asked to choose your grouping options for the report - whether you wish to apply classifiers (including UTT if it's part of your subscription) or clustering.

  • Click 'Report Wizard' to create a new report

  • Depending on the report type you choose, you'll be asked to choose your grouping options at varying stages. As an example, we'll choose the landscape report:

  • You're asked to choose the classifer/s that you wish to apply in your landscape report:

  • I've chosen classifiers, and when I select 'OK' I'm presented with all of the classifiers which are part of my account:

Need help? Request support and we'll connect you with an expert. 

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