The semantic search option on TotalPatent is a unique tool for patent searchers which I highlighted in a previous post, so today I’d like to call attention to a new TotalPatent feature created specifically for patent analysis purposes: the Merge tool. TotalPatent includes an Analytics tab where users can create charts using saved datasets from search results, folders, or document retrieval results. Users can now normalize the fields displayed in the charts by manually combining specific data points using the Merge tool. This tool will be useful to patent professionals performing initial analysis of a patent dataset because users can merge equivalent assignee or inventor names and therefore generate a more accurate visualization of the dataset. The visualization and data cleaning tools on TotalPatent are very simple and are no substitute for detailed patent landscape studies. The charts created under the TotalPatent Analytics tab shouldn’t be used to make important business or legal decisions, but they will provide an initial overview on certain aspects of the dataset through a simple visualization.
Continue reading for a closer look at how to use the Merge tool on TotalPatent can be used to combine equivalent assignee names!
Using the Merge Tool
The analysis functions on TotalPatent may be performed on either a search result set of up to 3,000 or a Work Folder set of up to 20,000 patent records. The analysis features are initiated by choosing the Analyze option above the results list or the Work Folder list. Users can also access the analysis section directly by choosing the Analytics tab in the top horizontal menu. Select the Visualize option in the submenu below the Analytics tab to view the interface for generating charts from patent data sets. Users can choose from a wide range of fields to include in the chart (authority, kind code, inventor name, assignee name, normalized assignee, publication date, filing date, etc.), and possible chart selections include simple line, bar, stacked bar, column, pie and bubble charts. Once the analysis charts have been created, they are interactive: a user may select a particular data point of interest, which will begin to flash. A list of all individual patent documents contained within that data point will then appear below the chart, where they can be viewed in more detail.
As of March 2012, a new Merge tool was added to the Analysis platform on TotalPatent, and users can select the “Combine Items” link at the top of the chart to manually normalize data fields such as Assignee Name, Inventor Names, Classes, etc. After selecting the “Combine Items” link, users will be presented with a window where they can select from all available data points for each field.
The user can select multiple data points representing the same item, such as multiple assignee names representing the same company. The user then must enter a new name for the combined items (such as “Agilent” to represent the three merged assignee names in the screenshot below), and the user can also specify whether this combination should be applied automatically to all analysis charts for this data set from this point forward.
After you select OK, the Merge window will close, and the combination will automatically be applied to the analysis chart. The user can choose to undo the last combination or edit the combination settings. When a user mouses over a section of the chart that represents a set of merged data points, the label that appears will display the newly assigned name for all merged data points, with the individual data point names listed below.
How Useful is the Merge Tool?
The visualization options in TotalPatent are greatly improved by the Merge tool, since users can create more accurate representations of the data by merging equivalent data points within a field. For example, equivalent assignee names that weren’t merged initially through the normalized assignee field can be combined manually using the Merge tool. The Merge tool is a step towards a more accurate and advanced analysis module on TotalPatent, but this merge option is still very basic when compared with the advanced data cleaning functions on data analysis platforms like VantagePoint. The limited data cleaning and chart options on the TotalPatent analysis module will at most be useful as a first step during in-depth patent analysis projects. The chart tool can still be used for initial overview purposes, though, to visualize trends in smaller patent data sets.
Do you know of other data cleaning tools on free or subscription patent search systems? Tell us about them in the comments section!
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.