January 3, 2017
A recent report was released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office entitled Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners’ Work. Published on June 30, 2016, the report totals 91 pages in the form of a PDF. Included in the report is an examination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) of the challenges in identifying relevant information to an existing claimed invention that effect patent search. The website says the following in regards to the reason for this study,
GAO was asked to identify ways to improve patent quality through use of the best available prior art. This report (1) describes the challenges examiners face in identifying relevant prior art, (2) describes how selected foreign patent offices have addressed challenges in identifying relevant prior art, and (3) assesses the extent to which USPTO has taken steps to address challenges in identifying relevant prior art. GAO surveyed a generalizable stratified random sample of USPTO examiners with an 80 percent response rate; interviewed experts active in the field, including patent holders, attorneys, and academics; interviewed officials from USPTO and similarly sized foreign patent offices, and other knowledgeable stakeholders; and reviewed USPTO documents and relevant laws.
In short, the state of patent search is currently not very good. Timeliness and accuracy continue to be concerned when it comes to providing effective search in any capacity. Based on the study’s findings, it appears bolstering the effectiveness of these areas can be especially troublesome due to clarity of patent applications and USPTO’s policies and search tools.
Megan Feil, January 3, 2017
October 14, 2016
Palantir Technologies asserted that an investor in Palantir of taking information from the Shire. Armed with the treasure trove of secret Hobbit lore, the investor in Palantir filed patents using the seeing stone-type information.
Sound like a Netflix or Amazon binge watcher?
My hunch is that the legal dust up between Palantir Technologies and Marc Abramowitz may be almost as much fun as the Google-Oracle dispute or an El Chapo extradition hearing.
Mr. Abramowitz has hired Skadden, Arps, which is shorthand for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom or SASMF. Fascinating acronym to decode if one does not know the full name of the the outfit which has been named America’s best corporate law firm for more than a decade. The 2,000 lawyers are supported by more than 2500 others. This is better than most cruise ships’ passenger to staff ratios.
How will Skadden, Arps deal with the allegations of making patents out of Hobbit labor? According to “Palantir Investor Taps Skadden in Trade Secrets Feud,” Skadden, Arp legal maestro said:
“Though artfully pled as a series of putative state-law claims, the operative complaint seeks to have plaintiff Palantir Technologies Inc. declared the sole inventor of three separate technologies that were in fact invented and developed by Mr. Abramowitz as the sole or joint inventor. Palantir’s claims necessarily raise substantial questions of federal patent law that can be resolved only by a federal court.”
Palantir seeks remediation under California law. Skadden, Arps is going to pop up a level. The Palantir legal eagles at Perkins Coie may have to tap into the Palantir seeing stone to foretell what the trajectory of a federal level patent case will be.
I don’t have a seeing stone. I am not even a Hobbit. I don’t work in the Shire. I labor in rural Kentucky. I consulted the fellow at the gasoline station and asked, “What’s the likely outcome of the Palantir-Abramowitz legal matter?”
He replied without looking up from his brown paper sack stuffed with a greenish bottle, “Expensive.” Bingo.
Stephen E Arnold, October 14, 2016
July 17, 2015
Patent documents are not something that high school students read. To be more accurate, patent documents are confections of legalese and engineering incantations read by those [a] paid to read them or [b] folks who have a dog in the fight.
The Google was not into patents in its Backrub days. That changed over time. Now the Google is inventing its way to a Great Wall of China patent fence.
Along the way, the Google hit upon the idea that some patent documents could be scanned and made searchable. The public version of the service became available in 2006. You can explore the collection at Google Patent Search.
After nine years of Google style evolution, the system includes US, European, and World Intellectual Property Organization documents.
The system returns results without ads. I ran a query for Sergey Bring and received this list of results. I noticed that some documents do not show a thumbnail of the document image. In my experience, some functions work; others do not. Glitch or feature?
The write up points out that Google Patents includes information germane to the user’s query from Google Scholar and “results of Prior Art.” I read:
The idea is that the new patent search will be easier to use both by experts in the field as well as the general public to look for patents and related materials. Given the rising interest in safeguarding IP among developers and founders who may have never had to consider patents much before, this could prove to be especially useful.
When I click on a patent, I see additional options:
The “find prior art” button displays:
The service is likely to get some tire kicking by those interested in patents.
My take on the new service is that the Google may have an opportunity to generate some fresh revenues.
Patent searches conducted on the for fee services from Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier can be expensive. There are also some useful “free” services such as FreePatentsOnline.com.
The Google with a bit of effort can add some bells and whistles and charge for them. For the “free” crowd, the Google can continue to integrate open source content, not just books and references to scholarly literature. Prior art often has a generous embrace.
For the for fee crowd, the Google can add the types of entity functions, among other advanced features, that the for fee services offer.
In short, the Google may be looking at the hundreds of millions of revenue available from those with a must have motivation and add some functions that make advertisers sit up and take notice. Maybe the USPTO would consider the Google as a source for its search technology.
I see this development as an important one because the GOOG can make some waves in a market most humans know little about. Think of the ads the Google can run for student debt advice.
My question remains, “Why has Google been so slow to take advantage of market niches in which complacent competitors and providers of free services have been slow to innovate?”
Stephen E Arnold, July 17, 2015
July 7, 2015
Over the years, I have bumped into some challenging content domains. One of the most difficult was the collection of mathematical papers organized with the Dienst architecture. Another was a collection of blog posts from African bulletin board systems in a number of different languages, peppered with insider jargon. I also recall my jousts with patent documents for some pretty savvy outfits.
The processing of each of these corpuses and making them searchable by a regular human being remains an unsolved problem. Progress has been slow, and the focus of many innovators has been on workarounds. The challenge of each corpus remains a high hurdle, and in my opinion, no search sprinter is able to make it over the race course without catching a toe and plunging head first into the Multi-layer SB Resin covered surface.
I read “Why Is Semantic Search So Important for Patent Searching?” My answer was and remains, “Because vendors will grab at any buzzy concept in the hopes of capturing a share of the patent research market?”
The write up take a different approach, an approach which I find interesting and somewhat misleading.
The write up states that there are two ways to search for information: Navigational search sort of like Endeca I assume and research search, which is the old fashioned Boolean logic which I really like.
The article points out that keyword search sucks if the person looking for information does not know the exact term. That’s why I used the reference to Dienst. I wanted to provide an example which requires precise knowledge of terminology. That’s a challenge and it requires specialized knowledge from a person who recognizes that he or she may not know the exact terminology required to locate the needed information. Try the Dienst query. Navigate to a whizzy new search engine like www.unbubble.eu and plug away. How is that working out for you, but don’t cheat. You can’t use the term Dienst.
If you run the query on a point and click Web search system like Qwant.com, you cannot locate the term without running a keyword search.
The problems in patents, whether indexed with value added metadata, humans laboring in a warehouse, or with semantic methods are:
- Patent documents exist in versions and each document drags along assorted forms which may or may not be findable. Trips to the USPTO with hat in hand and a note from a senator often do not work. Fancy Dan patent attorneys fall back on the good old method of hunting using intermediaries. Not pretty, not easy, not cheap, and not foolproof. The versions and assorted attachments are often unfindable. (There are sometimes interesting reasons for this kettle of fish and the fish within it.) I don’t have a solution to the chains of documents and the versions of patent documents. Sigh.
- Patents include art. Usually the novice reacts negatively to lousy screenshots, clunky drawings, and equations which make it tough to figure out what a superscript character is. Keywords and pointing and clicking, metaphors, razzle dazzle search systems, and buzzword charged solutions from outfits like Thomson Reuters and Lexis are just tools, stone tools chiseled by some folks who want to get paid. I don’t have a good solution to the arts and crafts aspect of patent documents. Sigh sigh.
- Patent documents are written at a level of generalization, with jargon, Latinate constructs, and assertions that usually give me a headache. Who signed up to read lots of really bad poetry. Working through the Old Norse version of Heimskringla is a walk in the park compared to figuring out what some patents “mean.” I spent a number of years indexing 15th century Latin sermons. At least in that corpus, the common knowledge base was social and political events and assorted religious material. Patents can be all over the known knowledge universe. I don’t know of a patent processing system which can make this weird prose-poetry understandable if there is litigation or findable if there is a need to figure out if someone cooked up the same system and method before the document in question was crafted. Sigh sigh sigh.
- None of the systems I have used over the past 40 years does a bang up job of identifying prior art in scientific, technical or medical journal articles, blog posts, trade publications, or Facebook posts by a socially aware astrophysicist working for a social media company. Finding antecedents is a great deal of work. Has been and will be in my opinion. Sigh sigh sigh sigh. But the patent attorneys cry, “Hooray. We get to bill time.”
The write up presents some of those top brass magnets: Snappy visualizations. The idea is that a nifty diagram will address the three problems I identified in the preceding paragraphs. Visualizations may be able to provide some useful way to conceptualize where a particular patent document falls in a cluster of correctly processed patent documents. But an image does not deliver the mental equivalent of a NOW Foods Why Protein Isolate.
Net net: Pitching semantic search as a solution to the challenges of patent information access is a ball. Strikes in patent searching are not easily obtained unless you pay expert patent attorneys and their human assets to do the job. Just bring your checkbook.
Stephen E Arnold, July 7, 2015
April 27, 2015
Have you followed Google’s patent application flow? Well, it continues to creep up. Have you explored Google’s free online patent search? Well, it does not get too many upgrades.
What is getting attention is a new service explained in the Googley manner in “Announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion.” According the write up, you can participate in an experiment that will send your intellectual property to Mother Google. I read:
today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August. By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly. Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.
I flagged this as a quote to note:
We’re always looking at ways that can help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone. We ask everyone to remember that this program is an experiment (think of it like a 20 percent project for Google’s patent lawyers), but we hope that it proves useful and delivers great results to participants.
With a Xoogler in the PTO and trolls on the defensive, I am confident there may be some deeper, economic thinking behind this “experiment.” I love the Google. I am confident that it will add more patent documents to its patent service. I am confident that Google will continue to be Google even as it faces some financial challenges.
Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2015
April 25, 2015
Need patent information? Lots of folks believed that making sense of the public documents available from the USPTO were the road to riches. Before I kicked back to enjoy the sylvan life in rural Kentucky, I did some work on Fancy Dan patent systems. There was a brush with the IBM Intelligent Patent Miner system. For those who do not recall their search history, you can find a chunk of information in “Information Mining with the IBM Intelligent Miner Family.” Keep in mind that the write up is about 20 years old. (Please, notice that the LexisNexis system discussed below uses many of the same, time worn techniques.)
Patented dog coat.
Then there was the Manning & Napier “smart” patent analysis system with analyses’ output displayed in three-D visualizations. I bumped into Derwent (now Intellectual Property & Science) and other Thomson Corp. solutions as well. And, of course, there was may work for an unnamed, mostly clueless multi billion dollar outfit related to Google’s patent documents. I summarized the results of this analysis in my Google Version 2.0 monograph, portions of which were published by BearStearns before it met its thrilling end seven years ago. (Was my boss the fellow carrying a box out of the Midtown BearStearns’ building?)
Why the history?
Well, patents are expensive to litigate. For some companies, intellectual property is a revenue stream.
There is a knot in the headphone cable. Law firms are not the go go business they were 15 or 20 years ago. Law school grads are running gyms; some are Uber drivers. Like many modern post Reagan businesses, concentration is the name of the game. For the big firms with the big buck clients, money is no object.
The problem in the legal information business is that smaller shops, including the one and two person outfits operating in Dixie Highway type of real estate do not want to pay for the $200 and up per search commercial online services charge. Even when I was working for some high rollers, the notion of a five or six figure online charge elicited what I would diplomatically describe as gentle push back.
I read “LexisNexis TotalPatent Keeps Patent Research out of the Black Box with Improved Version of Semantic Search.” For those out of touch with online history, I worked for a company in the 1980s which provided commercial databases to LexisNexis. I knew one of the founders (Don Wilson). I even had reasonably functional working relationships with Dan Prickett and people named “Jim” and “Sharon.” In one bizarre incident, a big wheel from LexisNexis wanted to meet with me in the Cherry Hill Mall’s parking lot across from the old Bell Labs’ facility where I was a consultant at the time. Err, no thanks. I was okay with the wonky environs of Bell Labs. I was not okay with the lash up of a Dutch and British company.
Snippet of code from a Ramanathan Guha invention. Guha used to be at IBM Almaden and he is a bright fellow. See US7593939 B2.
What does LexisNexis TotalPatent deliver for a fee? According to the write up:
TotalPatent, a web-based patent research, retrieval and analysis solution powered by the world’s biggest assortment of searchable full-text and bibliographic patent authorities, allows researchers to enter as much as 32,000 characters (comparable to more than 10 pages of text)—much over along a whole patent abstract—into its search industry. The newly enhanced semantic brains, pioneered by LexisNexis during 2009 and continually improved upon utilizing contextual information supplied by the useful patent data offered to the machine, current results in the form of a user-adjustable term cloud, where the weighting and positioning of terms may be managed for lots more precise results. And countless full-text patent documents, TotalPatent in addition utilizes systematic, technical also non-patent literature to go back the deepest, most comprehensive serp’s.
December 31, 2014
An article published on Innography called “Advanced Patent Search” brings to attention how default search software might miss important search results, especially if one is researching patents. It points pout that some parents are purposefully phrased to cause hide their meaning and relevance to escape under the radar.
Deeper into the article it transforms into a press release highlight Innography’s semantic patent search. It highlights how the software searches through descriptive task over product description, keywords, and patent abstracts. This is not anything too exciting, but this makes the software more innovative:
“Innography provides fast and comprehensive metadata analysis as another method to find related patents. For example, there are several “one-click” analyses from a selected patent – classification analysis, citation mining, invalidation, and infringement – with a user-selected similarity threshold to refine the analyses as desired. The most powerful and complete analyses utilize all three methods – keyword search, semantic search, and metadata analysis – to ensure finding the most relevant patents and intellectual property to analyze further.”
Innography’s patent search serves as an example for how search software needs to compete with comparable products. A simple search is not enough anymore, not in the world of big data. Users demand analytics, insights, infographics, easy of use, and accurate results.
November 28, 2014
The answer is, “Patent every possible thing in order to make the patent wall higher and thicker.”
The article sort of misses the point of my answer. Navigate to to “Steve Jobs Lives on at the Patent Office.” The write up sees the situation in this way:
Deceased inventors can win patents if the approval process draws out, or when attorneys seek “continuations”—essentially new versions of old patents. And the more lawyers and money an inventor has, the more likely his ghost will rattle on. The estate of Jerome Lemelson, the sometimes-controversial independent inventor who came up with the bar code reader, received 96 patents following his death in 1997 at age 74.
Okay, okay. Apple, not Steve Jobs, is milking the cow. Patents unfortunately do not correlate with here and now financial success. I know of one really good example: IBM.
Some folks are confusing legal procedures with making money for someone other than lawyers.
I want to avoid that error. Also, would not life be better if Apple offered a search system that sort of worked.
Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2014
March 20, 2014
The article titled It’s BrightEdge vs. Searchmetrics in SEO Patent Case on Search Engine Watch warns of containing some “dry legalese”, but when it comes to patent infringements that is difficult to avoid. This particular case involves a complaint filed by BrightEdge, which claims that Searchmetrics is illegally using BrightEdge technology. Dennis Goedegbebuure, head of SEO at Airbnb explains Searchmetrics point of view in the article,
“That system was built in 2009, where we built the strategy starting in 2008, far before the patents by BrightEdge were submitted. We would check the ‘share of voice’ of any eBay page ranking for a keyword, and compare our position with the competition on multiple factors, backlinks and on-page factors; after which, we would be able to estimate what would be needed to push those eBay pages upwards in the rankings.”
This may sound like Google spoofers of the SEO variety getting legally frisky. The article explains that most innovative companies take out patents either as a defensive move against “patent trolls” or simply to avoid having there more unique ideas stolen by competitors. Patent controversies are common, and the system is clearly imperfect between combative companies and patents occasionally being awarded to the wrong company.
Chelsea Kerwin, March 20, 2014
February 24, 2014
Finally, there are easier ways to find out whether your great idea has already been patented by an earlier-rising birdie. GCN reveals two new tools in, “Patent Search Engines Aim to Open Innovations to the World.”
The Lens is an open search engine created specifically for hunting down patent information, created by Richard Jefferson of the Queensland University of Technology. The Lens crawls through about 100 million documents in 90 countries, and its creator hopes it will help level the innovation playing field. Interestingly, Jefferson traces his lineage directly to Thomas Jefferson, who started the U.S. patent system in the first place. Perhaps that is why Richard Jefferson seeks to rectify the “dire straits” he feels that system is now in: being gamed by companies “incredibly skilled in hiding the ball in intentionally opaque patents.” The article tells us:
“The Lens already hosts several tools for analysis and exploration of the patent literature, including graphical representations of search results to advanced bioinformatics tools. In 2014 developers will be working to create forms of the Lens that can allow all annotations, commentary and sharing to be behind firewalls for those who need it, without forsaking the open and inclusive cyberinfrastructure, the organization said on its website.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) itself seeks to address the need for streamlined patent search with its Global Patent Search Network. The article doesn’t say how many countries this engine reaches, but does mention that the PTO has worked with China’s government to make their patent documentation searchable; that cooperation is nothing to sneeze at. The article reveals:
“Users can search documents, including published documents and granted patents, recorded from 2008 to 2011. The records are available in in English machine translations, which PTO acknowledged could sometimes generate awkward wording, but ‘provided an excellent way to determine the gist of the information in a foreign patent.'”
So, next time you want to know whether your invention has already been invented, turn to these tailor-made search engines.
Cynthia Murrell, February 24, 2014