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An Easier Way to Search Patent Reexam Data: Patent Savant

USPTO’s PAIR provides invaluable status information for US patent documents, but accessing this information can be tedious and frustrating due to PAIR’s inconvenient user interface.  Users must continually enter reCAPTCHA data to access the search form, very limited search options are available through the search form, and the portal will time out on you after a few minutes of inactivity.  Wouldn’t it be nice to find an alternative to PAIR for searching US patent status data?

Now there is an alternative, at least for US patent reexamination records.  Patent Savant, a web portal created by Patent Savant LLC, allows users to access patent reexam data for free through a much more user-friendly interface than PAIR, and subscribing users can access broader search options, alerts, and annotation tools.

After the jump, learn how to search US patent reexam data for free on Patent Savant!

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A Patent Application as Performance Art?

[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] According to the the USPTO, the purpose of the US patent system is to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries” (from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution).  Yes, we may occasionally find humorous patents that have the secondary effect of entertaining us, but even the most bizarre patent application is usually submitted in order to protect the inventors’ or applicants’ rights to a perceived discovery.  But once in a blue moon, you come across a patent application that must have been filed for another reason: it can only be a joke.  Or a brilliant piece of performance art.

The Anticipate This!™ Patent and Trademark Law Blog recently posted about “U.S. Pat. Appl. Pub. No. 20060259306:  Business method protecting jokes.”  The Blogging Biodiversity blog concluded that this ridiculous patent application (which also has equivalent patent applications in the UK and Australia, as well as a PCT application) must be a joke:

The whole thing is obviously a joke itself, intended to point out some of the absurdities of the patent system. For those with any background in patent law, reading the stiff language of patent applications applied to such a silly subject is additionally amusing.

I’m going to take this a step further: I believe that this patent application is an incredibly innovative piece of performance art.  After the jump, I’ll take a look at some file history documents for this patent application in PAIR and PATENTSCOPE, and I’ll explain why this application truly is a work of art.

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Free Patent File History Tools: Ipsum vs. USPTO PAIR

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The USPTO public PAIR (Patent Application Information Retrieval) portal is an extremely useful tool for checking application statuses for US patent documents and viewing File Wrappers, which contain electronic versions of all correspondence  with the USPTO related to a particular  patent application.  The Intellogist Blog has posted a two part guide on how to use the public PAIR portal, and we’ve located the File Wrapper for the famous “Godly Powers” patent application on PAIR.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO)  released the full version of its equivalent to PAIR: Ipsum.  Ipsum, available on the IPO website, describes itself as a “free online service which lets you check the status and access information on UK patent applications. You can also get copies of some documents from the open part of the file.”  A flurry of  online posts and articles praise Ipsum for potentially saving UK business as much as “£100,000 per year,” since it “will remove the cost to businesses of requesting patent documents; instead they will now be available for free at the click of a button.”

Does Ipsum have any unique features that differ from public PAIR?  How does the coverage of Ipsum compare to public PAIR?  And these free systems don’t offer a wide range of coverage, so where can you find patent file histories that aren’t available on Ipsum or PAIR? Find out after the jump!
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Godly Powers: A Mystical US Patent Application

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I’m going to take a break today from visiting obscure search systems (and writing long 2-part posts) to share with you a delightful patent application that I  hold very close to my heart.  I usually don’t spend my spare time reading the image file wrappers of US patent applications in PAIR,  but I will openly admit that I spent a solid two hours one Saturday morning reading the entire file for US Application No. 11/161,345.

After the jump, discover the secrets of 11/161,345, a.k.a “Godly Powers!”
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Warning: your electronic patent search databases have gaps!

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UPDATE: For a further enlightening discussion of the gaps in the USPTO full text database, please see the comment section of this post (click the word “Comments” where it appears at the very end of this post).

Recently, a message came over Carl Oppedahl’s PAIR discussion list highlighting a mysterious gap in the USPTO’s online patent database: data seemed to be missing for patent numbers between 6,363,527 and 6,412,112.

Rick Neifeld, of Neifeld IP Law, responded that his 1999 survey into the PTO’s data revealed many errors in the USPTO’s data, as many of us have probably suspected for some time.  Rick’s description of these errors is very interesting:

The dirt consisted of things as minor as numerous misspellings of assignee names, or HTML pages non compliant with HTML standards, to HTML text that could not be deconstructed into component sections due to HTML formatting errors, assignment records that were combined, corrupt, unreadable.

I absolutely expect our current crop of electronic patent database to contain massive numbers of errors. We have to expect this, if only because of the sheer amount of information involved.   Another reason might be that the economic model of patent data production does not really encourage the national patent offices to maintain high quality electronic patent data. There are millions and millions of patent documents pouring out of government-run institutions (without a profit motive for perfection), and errors are bound to be rampant.

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Using USPTO Public PAIR Part 2

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Previously, I showed how to access USPTO PAIR to examine public records of a patent application’s prosecution as well as identify any related US patent documents. PAIR is an important part of any prior art searcher’s tool belt because the US patent system is such a large store of information and PAIR gives users limited access to the inner-workings of that store, providing info on related documents that a given search system may not have as well as making available the file history which contains a treasure trove of information that can be mined for help on your search.

As commenter Mike pointed out on our last post, the file histories on PAIR are not searchable (or in one file, even). This problem can be rectified by learning to look in the right place or better yet, by acquiring a fully searchable file history from a third party. Landon IP offers patent file histories with fully searchable and bookmarked contents (disclaimer: Landon IP is the parent company of Intellogist). Additionally, Landon IP checks the accuracy of every page, notifies you of papers or pages that are missing from the master file, directs your attention to important papers and attachments and drafts a professional file cover that identifies all of the references that were considered by the examiner.
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Using USPTO Public PAIR Part 1

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USPTO PAIR (the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Application Information Retrieval – boy that’s a mouthful) is a free site where users can check on the status of US patent applications and gain access to the correspondence documents between the applicant and the patent examiner (also called the file history or the file wrapper). Today I’ll show you how to access PAIR to to start gleaning information that can help you on a prior art search by exposing the inner workings of patent prosecution. In additional installments I’ll delve into specific documents within the file history.
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