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DWPI on Delphion is no longer available, as of March 31, 2012. DWPI data is available on the Thomson Innovation platform.


The following section contains subjective comments about the system that represent our editor's opinions, and should not be viewed as fact. Editor's opinions include positive and negative judgments about the product written in consideration of wider context, including related products and the industry at large. Further subjective information is presented in clearly labeled "Editor's Notes" throughout the report.

Delphion is a patent search system that caters to a varied audience. In addition to patent searchers with patentability/clearance/infringement goals, this would include business professionals, research and development managers, engineers or bench scientists. Delphion’s web site materials indicate an awareness of business goals such as competitive intelligence, which might require activities such as tracking emerging technologies or uncovering licensing opportunities. While the features offered by Delphion are not drastically different from those offered by other full text patent search engines, the system does offer a number of web-based search forms that show it caters to novice or occasional searchers.

Delphion includes some useful side features, such as its "corporate tree" search, its keyword-clustering analysis tool, and its relevancy ranking feature. The corporate tree lookup feature makes it possible for users to link subsidiaries to their parent companies. Thus, this feature enables enhanced assignee searching for both the professional legal-type searcher and those with competitive intelligence goals. The "clustering" feature is an analysis tool that makes use of keyword-extraction technologies to group patents by their related keyword content. The feature also provides a visualization tool to aid users in exploring common keywords within a technology landscape or IP portfolio. Notably, Delphion also offers a relevancy ranking system to rank search results. Users may even use search operators to assign different levels of importance to various search terms, which would be reflected in the relevance score assigned to each search result.

When compared to its competition, Delphion has some significant limitations. For example, the system will only allow the user to view the first 500 hits from a search string. In addition, Delphion does not offer users the ability to navigate to the next search result without having to first return to the hit list.

As a Thomson Reuters product, Delphion benefits from other Thomson data services that enhance its content: the Derwent World Patent Index (DWPI), and abstracts from the ISI Web of Science database. Delphion was unique upon its introduction to the search world as the first end-user system that allowed full access to the Derwent World Patent Index files. These files are expensive to search and view, so their inclusion is another indicator that the system was designed with the corporate world in mind. Upon its release, many professional searchers used to using the Derwent files in an advanced command line environment were disappointed with some of Delphion’s limitations.[1] However, despite the criticisms, Delphion kept the file online. The system still promotes searching and even using the advanced statistical and clustering analysis features on Derwent data; because the data is cleaner, these features work even better with DWPI data.

In addition, Delphion offers an unusual and valuable feature regarding citation searching: for some records, the service links non-patent citations to their corresponding abstracts from Thomson Reuters’s ISI Web of Science database, a huge compendium of scientific literature. These abstracts may be displayed without incurring additional charge, but their coverage is not complete: they are only present for a percentage of records.

Notably, due to its early relationship with IBM, Delphion contains a keyword-searchable file of IBM’s Technical Disclosure Bulletin (TBD), a journal that allowed IBM employees to publish defensive invention disclosures, from 1958-1998.

Ultimately, Thomson's Delphion is a relatively easy-to-learn no-frills search tool for the patent searcher with patentability/clearance/infringement goals. Delphion is especially well-suited for business professionals, research and development managers, engineers or bench scientists.


  1. Lambert, Nancy. "Delphion Updates Web Site, Enables Access to Derwent World Patents Index." Information Today. Posted On March 19, 2001 Accessed March 17, 2009.
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