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There are many aspects to patent searching that are important, yet non-obvious (pardon the pun). As I discussed in the “Top 5 Worst Mistakes in a Patent Search” post, two of the foundations to a good patent search are effective communication and management. Patent search projects can be complex and unwieldy if they are not properly and concisely organized.
To this end, it’s important that you and your team come up with a system to organize and track workflow during a patent search project. One of the easiest ways to do this is to utilize the project tracking features that your patent search system of choice employs. In many cases, sub accounts or project IDs are available to help monitor what (and how much) is getting done on that important job of yours.
Read along as I discuss how these tracking features can help you on your next project!
Consulting Intellogist’s Quick Table Comparison feature under the “Cost/Usage Tracking” section, we see that many of the prominent commercial patent search systems feature the ability to track cost or usage. In some cases this works under the “sub account” model and in other cases a project or client ID model is used. Among major commercial patent search providers Minesoft/RWS (PatBase), Thomson (Innovation, Delphion), Questel-Orbit (QPAT, Qweb, and Orbit.com), and LexisNexis (TotalPatent) all offer cost/usage tracking. This makes it likely that you can start using this feature to make project management easier and more effective.
Why use these tracking features?
1. It can simplify billing – Some tracking systems, such as PatBase’s sub accounts allow users to calculate billing based on user modifiable values such as time spent, number of searches, downloads, and more. Forget Microsoft Excel! Automatic billing calculation is a nice way to avoid the possibility to having the information get lost or mangled when someone tries to import or manually transfer the data.
2. It can enforce naming standards – Does your firm has an overarching naming scheme to keep everyone on the same page when referring to specific clients or accounts? Systems such as TotalPatent can enforce project ID naming formats for multiple character types and styles. Standards compliance like this can be difficult and frustrating to enforce, so having the system do it for you is a nice benefit. Even having a sub account or project naming field can be enough to remind your searchers to track the data correctly instead of using placeholder names that can cause confusion later.
3. It can standardize practice across multiple users – Spinning off of the last point, if multiple searchers are working on the same project asynchronously, it can be a benefit to have them share a login and sub account. Most systems thankfully won’t overwrite search histories and the like when switching sub accounts. What they will commonly do, though, is allow saved searches, alerts and more to be marked and managed together by using a system’s built in tracking feature. One searcher can then pick up where the previous searcher left off, even if there was activity on the main account subsequent to the sub account being used.
Hopefully these reasons give you cause to go into your patent search system’s help files and see exactly what capabilities are there to be utilized!
Do you use built-in project tracking in your patent search practice? We’d love to hear about it in our 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 searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.