Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Satisfaction with Govt Web Sites Dips

According to the latest report of the American Customer Satisfaction Index e-gov survey, "Customer satisfaction with federal Web sites dipped slightly last quarter for the first time in a year, although users are generally more satisfied with the information the government has online." (Reported in Government Computer News, March 21, 2006.)

Apparently, the USPTO is no longer participating in the ACSI e-gov survey, as it doesn't appear among the Q1 scores. It was first included two years ago in the March 2004 ACSI report. ACSI scores are archived at

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Academic Innovation Success Stories

Last year the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) launched the Better World Project to promote public understanding of how academic research and technology transfer benefits society and improves our way of life. AUTM has now released two publications highlighting academic innovations and a database of more than 100 products.

The Better World Report
Case studies on 25 innovations from academic research and technology transfer.

Reports from the Field
Profiles of 100 technology transfer success stories from Canada and the U.S. Innovations are grouped into 19 categories including biotechnology, environment, medical and nanotechnolgy. Also includes indexes by geographic location and institution. Unfortunately, Although many of the innovations are patented, no patent numbers are given. In most cases, however, it is easy to retrieve related patents from online databases using the information provided in a profile. (A good source of teaching examples?)

BWP DatabaseInnovations are searchable by field of application, institution, location or keyword. Again, no patent numbers are not included. (Perhaps a future improvement?)

Both reports are available for purchase or may be downloaded for free. The database is also provided free of charge. Lastly, a supplemental report on academic innovations from UK institutions is available.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Patent Information News 1/2006

The latest issue of the EPO's Patent Information News (formerly EPIDOS News) is now available.

Articles include:

- Determining the value of a European patent
- IPC8 data in the EPO's databases
- IPC reform and XML
- IPC reform - the user's view
- OPS document delivery
- esp@cenet update

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Searching Chinese and Japanese Designs

The European Patent Office has published two new guides on how to search Chinese and Japanese designs using Locarno classifications. Look for them under "Tips and Tricks for Searching Databases" in the EPO Far East FAQ - Japan and FAQ - China.

Friday, March 17, 2006

British Library Launches New "Business and IP Centre"

The British Library has launched a new service for innovators, entrepreneurs and business owners called the "Business and IP Centre" or BIPC. BIPC is built around the impressive patent and market research collections of the BL and offers free workshops, seminars, speakers, case studies and an e-newsletter.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Archive Search Tool May Reveal Lost U.S. Patents

Librarians and historians know that researching early U.S. patents is often a frustrating exercise that ends in disappointment. Although the U.S. government registered approximately 10,000 patents from 1790 through 1836, almost all original U.S. patent documents and files from this period were lost in a devastating fire that swept through the Patent Office in the early morning hours of December 15, 1836. The Patent Office, using funds provided by Congress, attempted to rebuild its files by obtaining copies of patents from inventors. About 2,500 patents, the majority from the 1820s and 1830s, were recovered in this way. For the remainder, all that is known is the title, inventor name, and date. These patents are called "X" patents because of the unique serial number assigned to them many years later. Patent No. X1, the first U.S. patent, was granted to Samuel Hopkins on July 31, 1790. Copies of recovered X patents, many in handwritten script, are available in the USPTO web-based patent database.

Some experts believe that there are many more early U.S. patents waiting to be discovered in court archives, libraries, archives and attics. Indeed, over the years researchers and patent buffs have stumbled across several missing patents in archives and libraries. One of the largest caches was discovered in August 2004 when two New Hampshire patent attorneys located 14 lost patents in Dartmouth Library. A systematic search of courthouse archives and libraries would undoutably turn up more, but none has ever been undertaken (to my knowledge), probably because the cost would be prohibitive.

Fortunately, patent researchers now have access (until May 31) to a powerful new tool that may help them identify copies of lost pre-1836 U.S. patents located in archives, museums and libraries around the world. ArchiveGrid, an initiative of RLG, contains collection descriptions of nearly a million historical documents, personal papers and family histories from thousands of institutions. In effect, ArchiveGrid is a union catalogue of archival collections. RLG is seeking additional grants and sponsorships to keep the system free of charge.

A simple keyword search in ArchiveGrid discovered the following tantalizing patent documents, none of which appear in the USPTO database. (X patent number obtained from list of name and date patents, July 31, 1790 to July 2, 1836.)

Patent number: X3502
Merrow, Joseph M., 1848-1947.
Patent, gunpowder, 1822 April 19.
1 sheet ; 25 cm.
Notes and Summaries: Old Sturbridge VillageMStuO
Shelving control number: 1993.63 pc
Photocopy of "Letters patent" in making gunpowder, in names of Joseph M. Merrow and Robert McKee, Jr.See also Visual Resource Library for photo of Merrow Mill, and Manuscript Information File.McKee, Robert, Jr.RLG Union Catalog Record ID: MAOV93-A103

Patent Number: X5325
Mosher, Reuben.
Patent, 1829.
l item.
New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections
New York State Library
Shelving location: Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12230.N
Shelving control number: 21208

Patent Number: X8725
Martin Rich patent, 1835. 1 item.
Patent issued to Martin Rich for an improvement in Iron Dogs for a Saw Mill called the Gauge Saw Mill Dog. Signed by Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, and dated March 27, 1835.Preferred Citation: Martin Rich Patent, #272m. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.Cornell University LibraryNICShelving control number: 272m.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

U.S. Patent Counts, Jan. 1-Mar. 9, 2006

U.S. patent issues remained strong but stable in the second half of February and into the first week in March, perhaps signaling an end to four months of lower than anticipated patent grants.

The number of published applications jumped to more than 6,200 on March 2. The combined total of issued patents and published applications for the week of February 26 was more than 10,000.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

2006 Patent Focus Report - Thomson KnowledgeLink

A little late but the Jan/Feb issue of Thomson's KnowledgeLink newsletter has an interesting article highlighting the most important patent developments in China, Europe, India, Japan and the US.


Friday, March 03, 2006

DOE Launches Megasearch Initiative

According to a report in Federal Computer Week, the Energy Department's Office of Science and Technology Information is launching a new "megaportal" initiative called Global Discovery that will allow users to retrieve scientific and technical information from four existing portals, ", a portal with millions of pages of pre-publication research findings, a search engine for science conference proceedings and a database of international research on energy – by entering one query on one Web site."

The USPTO patent database is one of many government sci-tech resources that can be searched via the portal. Users may search it in tandem with other resources or select just the USPTO database. However, the search engine is crude at best. While retrieves keywords in patent titles with the same accuracy as the USPTO search engine--the title search "(pill or capsule) and (coating or film)" retrieves 10 patents. An identical search in the USPTO database retrieves the same 10 patents--it doesn't find data in some fields, such as current classification, and has difficulty with inventor and assignee names. Search results are limited to 50 hits. searches only the USPTO patent database and not the published applications database, which contains ~1.2 million documents or roughly 15 percent of all US patent documents.