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Convert RIS to Bibtex for Patent Entries

Are you reviewing both patent literature and academic literature? Do you use Bibtex to keep track of your academic references? Have you been frustrated by the lack of bibtex support for patent citations? Hopefully this tool can help.

Below is quick tool I made to convert patent information in the RIS format to Bibtex format. Since there's no standardization of patent entries for bibtex, three styles are provided (biblatex, IEEE, and bibtex standard using @misc).

  1. Export and save the .ris file for your desired patent record from PatentLens, a free patent/patent application search engine which searches US, EP, AU and WIPO.
  2. Browse and submit the file in the field below.
  3. The bibtex entries will appear on the results page. Copy and paste the desired style into your bib file.

Type (or select) Filename:

Note that as of Dec 2013, PatentLens has become The Lens which no longer exports RIS (at least not yet). However, Google Patents and SciFinder still does. Here is a good resource to find out more about patent citation formats and sources: link

Updated 04/05/2011 with fix to multiple authors and removal of inventor locale in author field.

Updated 02/01/2014 to allow TY field to accept GEN to accommodate Google Patent RIS.

Example Output

This is an example of what the output will look like. The output is in text so you can easily copy the record to your favourite reference manager:
 author = {EHLINGER, JR., Philip Charles},
 title = {Device for the treatment of hiccups},
 year = {2006},
 month = {06},
 day = {13},
 number = {US 7062320},
 type = {Patent},
 version = {},
 location = {US},
 url = {},
 filing_num = {10684114},
 yearfiled = {2003},
 monthfiled = {10},
 dayfiled = {14},
 pat_refs = {US 408607 A (Aug, 1889) Flint 607/134; US 4210141 A (Jul, 1980) Brockman et al. 604/78},
 IPC_class = {A61N 1/04},
 US_class = {607  2},
 abstract = {A device for the treatment of hiccups, and more specifically, to a method and apparatus for the treatment of hiccups involving galvanic stimulation of the Superficial Phrenetic and Vagus nerves using an electric current.}

This is an example of how to use it in latex:

Latex biblatex style example


blah blah blah~\cite{EHLINGER:2006:biblatex}


Latex bibtex IEEE style example

\usepackage{url} % Needed for url field

blah blah blah~\cite{EHLINGER:2006:ieeestyle}


Latex bibtex misc example



blah blah blah~\cite{EHLINGER:2006:misc}



When doing research and reviewing academic literature, I use latex to write up my notes and bibtex for my references. When reviewing patents for commercial activities, I typically like to use Excel for an initial review of a long list of abstracts, then go through the description for a shortlist and summarise in a table within a document like MSWord. But since academic literature is relevant for commercial reviews as well, I wanted to consolidate my notes and list of references. I like to use bibtex for both citations and storing other relevant information for each record.

What I found was that there's no tool out there that can easily convert formats exported from patent searches to a good bibtex entry. In fact, as those who use bibtex probably already know, there's no standard entry type for patents in bibtex. The best alternative is to use @misc.

A few journals out there have started releasing bibtex style templates with an @patent entry, and the best I've found is IEEE's which you can read more about in their HOWTO and download from CTAN. The fields make sense and contain relevant info you'd probably want to keep about a patent/patent application. It has a field for the assignee, called assignee, which may be different from the inventor (for a non-US patent); unfortunately, PatentLens does not include that information in its export. The only field I would say is desirable is a field for priority date, which may be different to application date.

The ACS has also updated it's bst to include @patent, but it's pretty rudimentary (as of 19-Apr-2008). According to the guide: "The data entry for this record type follows the pattern used in rsc.bst: journal is used to hold the patent type (e.g.. "U.S. Patent"), with the patent number given in pages." This is just relabelling the journal entry to a patent one, which in my opinion seems rather pointless and potentially confusing; If you're using that style, I would recommend @misc instead.

The problem with the above styles is that they're specific to those particular journals. biblatex is a package that can be used for format the styles using tex macros (instead of running bibtex), but still uses bibtex's database (.bib). biblatex also has @patent as a standard entry type (yay!) Extensive documentation is available and can be downloaded from CTAN. It's pretty similar to IEEE's format and has a field for the assignee, called holder. No priority date either.


The colour coding scheme for the fields are:
RIS (PatentLens style) Biblatex (standard) Bibtex (standard) Bibtex (IEEEtran)
TY - PAT @Patent @misc @Patent
Inventor A1 author author author
Title T1 title title title
Publication Date Y1 year year year
month month month
day day day
Filing Number VL filing_num filing_num filing_num
Publication Number IS number note number
type howpublished type
version version version
Country of Publication CY location nationality nationality
Patent References PB pat_refs pat_refs pat_refs
Application Date Y2 yearfiled yearfiled yearfiled*
monthfiled monthfiled monthfiled*
dayfiled dayfiled dayfiled*
IPC Classification M1 IPC_class IPC_class IPC_class
US Classification M2 US_class US_class US_class
Abstract N2 abstract abstract abstract
Web URL UR url url url
Link to PDF L1
Link to Fulltext L2
Non-Implemented Optional Fields holder, subtitle, titleaddon, addendum, urldate, urlday, urlmonth, urlyear, date, note key language, assignee, address, note
* Filing dates are displayed if publication dates (day/month/year/date) are empty

I hoped the information on this page has helped. Please note, it took a long time to compile, script, edit, and publish all this so please link back where appropriate.