Patent analysts require sophisticated tools to create detailed and customized patent landscapes for clients who need to gain insight into a particular technology field or group of competitors. Analysts can take their pick from a number of subscription-based patent analysis and visualization tools, but free patent analysis and visualization products are few and far between. Even when a patent search site offers free visualization tools, the product is usually very basic. Patexia, for example, allows users to create simple graphs based on searches of US patent documents dating back to 1974. This tool doesn’t even reach the complexity or coverage of the patent analysis features offered in conjunction with subscription patent search systems like Thomson Innovation or TotalPatent, but the free tool is a fast and easy way to quickly visualize trends relating to a particular IPC code, country, assignee, agent, or inventor over a period of time (for US patent records). In short, free patent analysis tools may provide a useful informal overview of trends for smaller US patent datasets, but results should ultimately be taken with a grain of salt.
Bearing that in mind, I recently visited a free patent community called Patent Buddy, which offers a host of free patent search and analysis features covering US patent records after 1980. The site also allows users to search through patent owners, inventors, agents, and technology classes, and some visualization options offer helpful insights into patent ownership trends within specific IPC classes.
After the jump, learn about all the search and analysis features available on Patent Buddy for US patent documents, patent owners, inventors, agents, and IPC classes!
Introduction to Patent Buddy
According to the About Us section of Patent Buddy, the site “was organized in 2007 by a group of senior patent lawyers.” Patent Buddy appears to cover US patent documents dating back to 1980. The site is free to search, but registered users gain access to more advanced functions like the option to save patent records to a portfolio (which we’ll discuss later in an upcoming blog post). Users can also download Patent Buddy applications for iPhone or Android, and the homepage states that Patent Buddy offers a premium plan (which doesn’t appear to be described in detail anywhere else on the website).
After logging in to Patent Buddy, users will see a main horizontal menu of tabs at the top of the page that is present on every page of the website. Today, we’ll focus on the options available under the “Search and Analytics” tab.
Options Under the Search and Analytics Tab
Under the “Search and Analytics” section of the website, users can search by:
- Patents - The advanced form includes publication date range, patent owner, and abstract keyword search. Results are listed in descending chronological order by publication date, 20 results to a page, and the results list includes the patent number, title, owner, and publication date. The results list is not sortable, and users can only refine the list by publication date range. Users can select the document number in order to view the full document record, which includes bibliographic data/abstract/representative image, the options to follow the document or add it to the portfolio, the options to view the document at the USPTO website or on Google Patents, a link to download the document in PDF format, patent citation ranking information, patent owner(s), international classifications (and a graphic breakdown of patent owners within that IPC class), inventors, cited art and forward cites, and the first claim. The record will also sometimes list other patents belonging to the same owner.
- Patent Owners - The advanced form includes the option to search by city name or state. Results are listed in alphabetical order 20 to a page and include the owner name, address (city/state), numbers of patents and published applications owned, and a link to view the owned patents. The results list isn’t sortable and can be refined by US state or city name. Select the owner name to view the full record on the owner, which includes an option to follow the owner, details on their patent portfolio (number of issued patents, total citation count, etc), top technology (IPC) classes for their patent portfolio, top patents (by citation), recent publications and patents, and top inventors for that owner.
- Inventors - The advanced form includes the option to search by patent owner, patent number, publication number, publication date range, city name, state, IPC class, and various options for grouping results (by name, name and patent owner, name and city, name and state, or no grouping). Results are listed in alphabetical order 20 to a page and include (based on the selected grouping) the inventor name, company/address, and number of patents filed. The results list isn’t sortable and can be refined by publication date range, first name, last name, patent owner, patent number, IPC class, US state or city name. Select the inventor name to view the full record on the inventor, which includes an option to follow the inventor, details on their patents filed/issued (number of filed/issued patents, total citation count, etc), work history, addresses, technology profile, and a list of patents/publications. A disclaimer at the top of the record states “This is official USPTO record data.”
- Technologies - Use a keyword search form to search by technology class/keyword/patent number, or browse through the IPC classes by section. Select a class to view the full record for that technology class, including the option to follow the class, total patents/applications/owners/inventors listed in the class, the class description, recent patents and publications in the class, and top owners in the class.
- US Patent Attorneys - The advanced search form allows users to search by first/middle name, registration number, country, state, city, and organization name. Users can also browse through a full alphabetical list of US patent attorneys. Search results are listed 20 per page alphabetically and include the attorney name, firm, type/registration number, and a bar showing years of experience. Results can’t be sorted but can be refined by first/middle name, registration number, or organization name. Select an attorney name to view the full record, which includes the organization, years of practice, professional information, contact information, work history, and former coworkers. A disclaimer at the top of the record states “This is official USPTO record data.”
- Patent Firms/Depts - The advanced search form allows users to search by city/state and to limit results to all firms, only Patent Buddy Top 100 Firms, only or Top 300 Firms. Search results are listed about 20 per page and include the firm/department name, location/address, size of the firm, and a bar showing years of experience. Results can’t be sorted but can be refined by city, state, or zip code. Select a firm name to view the full record, which includes an overview of the firm (number of attorneys, professional information, and location), a list of attorneys and agents currently involved at the firm, a list of firm alumni, and a dashboard of statistics about the firm (firm growth, overall experience, and current experience). A disclaimer at the top of the record overview states “This is official USPTO record data.”
- Special Reports - This page currently states “if you were a user of our Research Reports, please contact support at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to access these reports in the new Patent Buddy site.” This may be a feature included only in the premium version of Patent Buddy.
The coverage of Patent Buddy seems to only include data available through the USPTO website, and the search features of the site are very basic, with only limited fielded searching options, few filtering options for results, and no sorting features at all. If you get a very large result set and want to view earlier records in the set, it’s nearly impossible to page through all 20,000 results to the earliest published records, since the records are listed in reverse chronological order. You’d need to repeatedly filter the set by date range to view relevant sections of records, which can be aggravatingly time consuming.
Despite these coverage and interface drawbacks, Patent Buddy offers some useful visualization features that may provide insights into overall trends within specific technology sectors, such as which companies own the most US patents within a specific IPC class. Patent Buddy additionally offers directories of patent attorneys and firms (based on USPTO data), and the statistics on the experience and growth of these attorneys and firms may be useful for potential clients or job seekers.
Next time, we’ll look at how Patent Buddy can help you create a portfolio that follows the status of selected patent records, inventors, and owners!
Have you used Patent Buddy? What do you thinks of its search and analysis features? Let us know in the comments!
This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.