Gear Grinder #1: Complaints in the Patent World

Introductory Note: Welcome to “Gear Grinder with Danny Rooney,” our new blog series. This post is based on a fictitious character, and readers should be aware of the underlying snark and sarcasm. Just think of it as a way to have fun and let loose with some frustrations with life as a patent professional. We know you can relate!

Welcome to the Gear Grinder, where I hope to not only emulate my old curmudgeon third uncle Andy, but far surpass him. My fifth cousin Wayne had a glowing review of what I plan to do: he said, “It’s alright like!” In case you haven’t guessed, I plan on talking about the fabulous world of patents, not the boring old world of real life. Stay tuned and hear the first gear grind from the horse’s mouth…not that I’m a horse. It’s a doozy about working with different patent search systems.


My first gear to grind is related to compatibility of data between patent search systems. I was doing a search recently and looking for Indian patent data. For those who are unaware, Indian applications have an office code built into the application number that indicates the patent office in which the application is filed. Patents can be filed in Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai. Unfortunately, each search system exports this number differently.

Let’s say for example, application 327 filed in Mumbai on 2008. One system will export the number as IN2008MU00327, another as IN327MUM2008, and a third as IN2008MU327. Now I would venture that many patent searchers have greatly honed their Excel manipulation skills to the point where they have carpal tunnel syndrome on their mouse scrolling finger. They would realize that sorting by application numbers to de-duplicate a list of patent documents from all three systems is impossible without some extreme manipulation of data using such exciting functions as LEFT(), SEARCH(), and CONCATENATE(). For them, seeing such a horrifying spreadsheet excites them like a mule with a spinning wheel. For a layperson, that’s too difficult. Even the experienced searcher can have their hat handed to them when he or she must look at thousands of records in such a format.

Why can’t data providers agree on a standard format for exporting data, at least for the important fields such as dates, application/publication numbers, assignee names, and so forth? If you want to add your own proprietary gobbledygook that promises more taste with half the calories, then go for it. But the main data should be all formatted the same.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what grinds my gears.

On the next episode of The Gear Grinder, Danny might wonder why all shoes aren’t made with Velcro straps. Tune in then to find out what’s really grinding Danny’s gears in the world of patent information!

Patent Analysis from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Intellogist Team members Dan Wolka with help from 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.

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19 Responses

  1. and to add further confusion when the city names were changed from their “English” names to their “Indian” names the codes also changed, so we have
    Calcutta (CA) to Kolkata (KO)
    Bombay (BO) to Mumbai (MU)
    Madras (MA) to Chennai (CH)
    Delhi stayed as DE
    Numbers can be reported as having one code when they are really the other, especially for those applications filed around the changeover, in addition to the problems described above.
    And if the application was a PCT application it gets a different code yet again.

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