The latest edition (1/2008) of Patent Information News, the European Patent Office's quarterly newsletter on patent information, documentation and searching, is now available.
Page 10 includes a list of esp@cenet improvements planned for 2008. They are:
1. Increase in the number of documents that can be stored in the "My Patents" list.
2. Relaxation in the page limit for PDF documents downloaded from esp@cenet.
3. Full-text searches for patent documents in English, French, and German.
4. Single search field accepting multiple search criteria.
5. Highlighting of search terms.
6. Exportable hit lists.
7. Date range searches.
All of these will be appreciated by patent searchers, but especially the ability to create sophisticated searches in a single search field, export lists and conduct date range searches. The current limit on the size of a document (about 50 pages) that can be downloaded is annoying at times, but since most patents have fewer than 50 pages it doesn't come up often. (At least not in my experience.) For US and WO patents, searchers can use alternate sites such as Patent Lens, pat2pdf and PatentScope to download lengthy patents.