SPIF is a standard format for representing patent identification information. SPIF stands for (Simple/Standard/Specific/Special) Patent Identification Format. SPIF restricts the use of non-standard characters in listing patent publication and patent application. At its core, SPIF is a simple asset identification and disambiguation solution. SPIF does not seek to guarantee the existence of an asset, rather, SPIF seeks to uniquely identify assets. SPIF was created with the following principles in mind: The first version of SPIF was released January 29, 2021. SPIF was launched publicly on March 22, 2021. SPIF is managed by the Linux Foundation's Joint Development Foundation Projects, LLC, SPIF Series, Project Name: SPIF Patent Identification Format.
Lists of patent numbers are important to facility a variety of patent management and monetization activities. For example
These lists can be difficult to work with because the tool or system used to generate the list may not be the same tool used to ingest the list, and inconsistencies between tools causes mismatches of patent assets. This causes in-house teams, outside counsel, and more to spend significant work multiple times over cleaning a list and making it suitable for use across tools (e.g., Cipher, Derwent, Questel, Innography, Unified Portal, etc.).
Some samples of problematic entries:
|Sample Input||Likely Meaning||Type (app or pub)||Comments|
|CNZL201480022610.X||CN201480022610||app||Extra check digit and prefix|
|ZL03827150.8||CN03827150||app||Missing country code|
|GB3123328||EP3123328A1||pub||Wrong country code (there's no UK patent with that number)|
|CH,2420637||EP2420637A2||pub||Wrong country code (there's no Swiss patent with that number)|
|ZA 2015/000715||ZA201500715||app||Extra zero|
|WO002/001258||WO02002/001258||app||Missing year digits|
|GB2405228,319405.7||GB2405228B8||pub||Extra stuff, app number?|
|US7123456BB||US7123456B2||pub||Made up kind code “BB”|
|KR1341015B1||KR101341015B1||pub||Missing 10 prefix|
|20067013095,Korea||KR20067013095||app||Country name spelled out as suffix|
|US2017163019A1||WO02017163019A1||app||There is a US app with that number, but they meant WIPO|
Importantly, SPIF is not a solution for patent characteristic identification, priority dates, live dead status. SPIF is a simple asset identification and disambiguation solution.
The following defines the format of the required and optional columns in a SPIF compatible list of patent assets. The required columns must be named exactly as shown. The formats of the numbers for the supported patent offices and the PCT are shown in the Country Specific Guidance Section. These formats have been selected for broad compatibility with existing tools.
|Application Number - SPIF||The patent-office assigned application/serial # including the country code and omitting spaces and check digits. There should be nothing else in the field (e.g., no leading/trailing whitespace)
Reasons to include country code: Need it to look up regardless. Eliminates confusion between the actual serial number and designated country for EP. It eliminates the need to merge columns for matching and also solves issues with Excel reformatting the fields into numbers.
Check digits should be eliminated
|Required where there is no Publication Number
Recommended otherwise but can be blank
|Publication Number - SPIF||The patent office assigned patent number (when available), or publication number (when available). including the country code and the kind code. There should be no spaces, punctuation, or other characters. There should be nothing else in the field (e.g. no leading/trailing whitespace)
Check digits should be eliminated.
(Blank is ok if no publication number is available)
|Required when issued or published, otherwise blank|
Additional fields may be provided and parsers supporting SPIF are not required to evaluate these columns when performing matching. However, if these column names are present the data in the columns must conform to the provided descriptions.
|Title - SPIF||The title of the patent. This makes human verification of a file easier||High frequency cable, high frequency coil, and method for manufacturing high frequency cable||Recommended|
|Filing Date - SPIF||The filing date of the patent. This makes human verification and some machine verification simpler.
Excel date (not text), set Excel Date format to: "yyyy-mm-dd" (ISO-8601)
|Country - SPIF||Two-digit country code. This should be present in the numbers already but may be provided as a separate column. This is not the validation country for EP assets.||EP
|Family identifiers - Multiple potential column names are permitted as shown at right.||It is often helpful to be able to realize that multiple assets are all in the same family. Family identifiers are not mandatory; however, if they are provided the columns must be named according to the following pattern:
“Family - <Type>” where <Type> is replaced with: INPADOC,
DocDB, Internal, or a product-defined string, e.g. “Family - XYZTool”.
This can be used to improve matching and/or spot common problems with the data.
|Family - Internal
Family - INPADOC 20110929WO2011118054A1
Family - DocDB 44672642
|Recommend that at least one family column be provided; multiple columns are permitted if properly named|
SPIF launched with support from Cipher, IAM Marketplace, Richardson Oliver Insights, RPX, and Unified Patents, who have all announced support of the SPIF format in 2021. Additionally, notable members of the SPIF project include
The first commercial trial of SPIF occurred between RPX and Google in March of 2021 (announced during the keynote speech at IPBC Connect, March 22, 2021).