Chemical Patent Searches? There’s an API for that!

When I think of APIs, I tend to think of mostly end-user data being passed back and forth between consumer websites and various client apps. Automated uploading to Flickr, for example, or consuming Twitter data in some way. I don’t think of chemical patent searches. SureChem just announced an API for just that function, though, which goes to show that automation and ubiquitous computing is penetrating more and more industries.

I’m not a chemist, nor a patent attorney, nor am I engaged in any way with medical research. But if I were, I imagine that SureChemDirect would be a very useful tool. SureChemDirect enables customers to incorporate sophisticated chemical patent search into their workflows, and perform batch queries using their own internal platforms.

I asked Nicko Goncharoff, SureChem’s founder, for details about the API.

We have a RESTful API that enables users to directly search our database of 12 million chemical structures, 20 million full text annotated patents and 70 million patent abstracts. Results include chemical structures and their associated meta-data, patent numbers, patent meta-data and full text records. In future the chemical meta-data will also include links to our public and proprietary content partners – so for example, if you get back a chemical structure, we will tell you where it occurs not only in SureChem, but in PubChem, ChemSpider, Royal Society of Chemistry journals, etc.

The interface purports to allow users to draw chemical structures and work through the database that way, rather than simply use keyword searching. I suppose if you’re a chemist, this is a pretty big advancement.

Goncharoff also pointed out that SureChem would be depositing all of their chemical structure data into PubChem. “This will be the first time that a complete patent chemistry collection has been made freely available,” Goncharoff told me.