It can be a big struggle for corporate IP departments to sort and label all of their patent data. Between granted patent holdings, applications in-process, and pre-application invention disclosures, there’s a lot of internal tracking going on. Add to this the process of monitoring technology areas by classification, keeping tabs on key competitor patent filings, and compiling prior art databases for defending or attacking patent lawsuits…well you can see how the data can runneth over. If we limit our focus in this post to discussing patent search systems, we run into a couple of dilemmas immediately: inconsistent data fields ranging over an array of patent documents and the even larger issue of trying to combine data fields from multiple search systems with different formats altogether.
What’s the solution to this cataloging problem? Although there is no one solution, an emerging solution in the patent information field is the addition of custom fields. Custom fields are a way that patent records can be annotated, collaborated on, searched, and tracked–all within a patent search system.
Read on to find out some specific advantages of a custom field system, see how Thomson Innovation has implemented this feature, and what competitors will also offer this feature!
Thomson Reuters had the following to say about their implementation of custom fields within Thomson Innovation:
Custom Fields on Thomson Innovation enables professionals engaged in the IP lifecycle to add their own internal context to global patent information. For example, they can:
- Apply internal technology classifications to patent records to assign them to specific portfolios or business units
- Correlate product use or brand information to patent records to aid in valuation assessments
- Drive alert result workflows by attaching a process stage to patent records, indicating when it’s ready for the next participant in the process to take action
- Tag records with relevancy indicators to aid R&D colleagues in assessing technologies or to identify potential prior art for legal review
- Import patent portfolio data from Thomson IP Manager®, Thomson Reuters intellectual asset management solution, to perform detailed analyses and make maintenance decisions
One of the themes of Thomson Reuters’ press release is that custom fields allow many constituents in the IP process to tag and provide input on individual patent records for later collaboration with other departments within a company. Giving technical researchers the ability to share their expertise in a searchable and standardized way is a huge time saver for the legal department since the information is directly attached to the patent record in the system. This is opposed to having to compare two documents or reports side by side which can induce mistakes. Even if time is spent combining the results into a custom database, this database then needs to be maintained with a set of protocols and procedures in order to stay up-to-date with one’s patent search system of choice.
Here are some other solutions for custom annotation in the patent search world (and I hope you’ll provide yours in the comments):
- Aureka (a Thomson Reuters analysis tool) offers document annotation.
- Engineering Village offers an extensive tagging feature
- QPAT, a Questel product, supports workfile sharing between users including user-review, annotate, and ranking features.
- SumoBrain and FreePatentsOnline offer user annotations for portfolios (another name for saved collections of patent documents). These portfolios can then be shared.
- VantagePoint, another analysis tool, offers users the ability to add comments to datasets or individual records.
Additionally, analysis tool Minesoft iNSIGHT Pro (a joint venture between Minesoft and Gridlogics) is slated to include support for per-record custom fields.
In comparing these custom field/tagging/annotating features, I think ease of use and sharing are tantamount. Having these custom fields fully integrated into the search system itself (as we currently see in the Thomson Innovation custom field solution) provides the additional benefit of making the annotations searchable for ranking or fast recall purposes.
What’s your opinion on these custom field features? Is this in the future of all patent search search systems? Do you use a system like this currently or do you have your own method? Let us know in the comments below!
This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.