Typical uses of patent information in the South African context are explained briefly, particularly novelty, infringement, family and equivalent searches. Certain computerised patents databases available on the DIALOG and ORBIT systems are outlined, with comments on the types of search for which they are appropriate, and on their limitations in terms of subjects, countries and time periods covered. Cost‐saving strategies and short‐cuts, aimed at reducing the high cost of online patents searching for the South African user, are suggested. These include using Dialog's Dialindex, MAPping, and OneSearch, as well as the use of low‐cost or training databases such as Dialog's ONTAP files and ORBIT s ORBPAT file.
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