Highlights from the 2014 PIUG annual conference

This year’s PIUG annual conference was held in Garden Grove, CA, just a few miles from Disneyland. Although I never made it to see Mickey Mouse, I still managed to have an excellent time, and to learn a lot in the process! The conference is always content-heavy, with two days of weekend workshops followed by a three-day-long technical program and then a final day of workshops (see a full program). With so much to write about, it was difficult to narrow this blog post down to just a few topics! The following summary contains some highlights from the event.

The keynote, delivered by Dr. Stephen Boyer of the IBM Almaden Research Center, was an eye-opening look into the kind of automated indexing that is now being performed on patent data, and specifically the US patent collection. Boyer discussed efforts to go beyond simply indexing chemical structures in patents, to indexing relationships such as drug targets and compound-target associations. Dr. Boyer also described an initiative to use everyone’s favorite game-show contestant supercomputer, Watson, to build domain “pedias” of genes, chemicals, drugs, and post-translational modifications.

Dr. Boyer also described how one challenging obstacle, performing automated indexing of Markush claims, is still unsolved. This issue could be partly addressed if the USPTO implemented data standards on applicant submissions, requiring them to submit Markush structures in a standardized chemistry file type. In the same vein, Dr. Boyer called for increased standardization in global patent collections generally, such as the use of Open Researcher and Contributor IDs (ORCIDs) and patent family codes.

Dr. Boyer concluded his excellent talk by stating the need to “restore the patent literature as a genuine vehicle for inventive discourse,” which can only be achieved if patent documents become more searchable through standardization, but also more intelligible in general. Attorneys who draft patent applications to obfuscate the true invention are often too successful, even to the point where highly skilled subject experts are unable to decipher them. This merely leads to costly litigation.

Christian Soltmann of the European Patent Office discussed practical applications of CPC codes, presenting a use case for crystal technologies. Notably, Mr. Soltmann highlighted the existence of 2000 series CPC codes which were once present in the ECLA classification scheme as “in-computer-only” or ICO codes. Codes with numbering greater than 2200 are known as “orthogonal” codes, and are used by examiners to classify refinements or details which are not specific to the main group. For example, the orthogonal code C04B 2290/00 and its subclasses relate to the “organisational aspects of production methods, equipment or plants” for class C04B, which covers topics related to lime, magnesia, slag and cements.

Kartar Arora of Landon IP spoke on searching for post-grant events in patent legal status. His advice included taking advantage of online legal status registers on national patent offices websites, as many offer information on free payments, patent term extensions, and even calculated expiry dates.

Stephen Adams of Magister Ltd. gave a very thorough summary on the current state of the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court agreements, and what they will mean for the patent information specialist. The term “unitary patent” is misleading, as there will be no new patent publication type once the system begins. Rather, the owner of an EP granted patent will have one month to apply for “unitary effect,” and the relevant information will appear only in the EP bulletin and the legal status record of the EP grant. The agreement is designed for patents with unitary effect to be litigated in a centralized Unified Patent Court system, rather than the national patent offices. Unfortunately, although the system sounds simple, there are many nuances to the agreement. In his presentation, Mr. Adams described the circumstances that may cause confusion during the early years of implementation. For example, the unitary effect on any given EP grant will only be valid in member states which had already ratified the Unified Patent Court when that EP patent was granted.

These are just a few of the excellent talks given at this year’s annual PIUG conference. To take advantage of future PIUG programming, you can consider attending the 2014 Northeast conference, which will take place September 29th – October 1st 2014 in New Brunswick, NJ. Or consider attending next year’s PIUG annual conference, May 2nd-7th 2015 in Lombard, IL ( near Chicago).

Did you attend PIUG 2014? Let us know in the comments!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Landon IP Librarian Kristin Whitman. 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.


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