Friday, October 31, 2008

New Esp@cenet Improvements

It's October... the time of year when patent searchers wait and watch for news from esp@cenet. The EPO rolled out its latest esp@cenet improvements this week.

The most impressive is a beta search function called SmartSearch. SmartSearch allows the user to enter terms such as inventor name, keyword, publication number, date, etc. in any order and without having to specify a search field for each term. For example, entering "Bombardier CA 2007" will cause SmartSearch to look for Bombardier as the inventor/applicant, Canadian patent documents (2 letters indicating the country code) and 2007 as the publication date.

Clicking on "Refine Search" in a SmartSearch search results list will take you to the SmartSearch search page where you can explore more features. There are 22 search field identifiers, some of them representing more than one field. For example, TA searches both title and abstract. A maximum of 21 search terms can be combined with Boolean operators and a maximum of 4 search terms per search field are allowed. Date range searching and proximity operators are only available at the EP level. Full text searching of the claims and specification is not possible. A maximum of five brackets can be used per search. Left truncation is not permitted.

esp@cenet also has added an export function that exports bibliographic data from up to 30 records at a time from search hit lists and documents stored in the "My Patents List". The fields include title, publication number, publication date, inventor(s), applicant(s), international classification, European classification, application number, date of application, priority number(s) and cited documents. The capacity of the "My Patents List" has been expanded to 100 documents (previously 20).

Esp@cenet also has a new logo celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SumoBrain Offers Free Registration

SumoBrain, the patent search system from the creators of FreePatentsOnline, is now offering free accounts. SumoBrain features full-text cross-collection searching of US patents and applications, EP patents and applications, PCT documents and Japanese abstracts, portfolios, alerts, and PDF download capabilities (for a fee). SumoBrain's content and search engine are very similar to FPO. And like FPO, registered users can save up to 1000 documents in 1-5 portfolios, and download bibliographic data from up to 250 records (at a time) in spreadsheet format.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Scientific Fraud and Patents

According to a report in the Oct. 2 issue of Nature, IP Australia is taking some heat for issuing a patent (AU2004309300B B2) to discredited Korean scientist Dr. Woo Suk Hwang that was based on fabricated data. In 2004 and 2005 Dr. Hwang claimed to have created a stem-cell line from a cloned human embryo. Hwang's claims, it was discovered, were a complete fraud. He lost his university job, was convicted of various crimes including embezzlement and his published papers were retracted. However, his university continued to prosecute patent applications based on his work.

Unlike scientific papers, patents are not peer-reviewed. Patent offices issue patents based on the legal criteria put for under national patent laws. They don't test the validity of the data submitted with a patent application. If they did, the patent system would probably grind to a halt. Of course, there are penalties for inventors who lie or commit misrepresentations in a patent application. But this usually applies to things like the date of conception of the invention, true inventorship, etc.

USPC Class Orders 1879, 1880

On Sept. 2, the USPTO issued Classification Order 1879 covering changes to design class D14, Recording, Communication, or Information Retrieval Equipment. New subclasses have been established for flash type memory drives, karaoke systems and digital media recorders. There are approximately 40,000 patents classified in Class D14.

The USPTO also published on Sept. 2 Classification Order 1880 covering a new cross-reference art collection labeled G9B, Information Storage Based on Relative Movement Between Record Carrier and Transducer. The order provides little information on the origin of this class, other than to say that it was established in 1979 and is connected to something called an IdT scheme, which is a European classification system. Obviously, it resembles an IPC class and not a USPC class. There are no patents classified in G9B at this time. Perhaps it is a new e-subclass.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

U.S. Patent Counts, Q3 2008

The USPTO published 72,421 patent applications (A docs) in Q3, a 3 percent decrease over the same quarter last year and a 6.78 percent drop from the previous quarter. On October 2, the USPTO published a record-breaking 8,955 patent applications. If these had been counted in Q3, the total would have been a hefty 81,376. The USPTO is on track to publish over 310,000 applications this year. Approximately 1.87 million plant and utilty patent applications have been published since 2001.

The number of issued patents (B docs) in Q3 dropped to 40,869, a 17 percent drop from the previous quarter and a 6 percent decline from the same quarter last year. This was the lowest total in almost three years. Weekly issues remained flat for most of the quarter, dropping precipitously in the second half of September. The USPTO's campaign to hold the line on low quality patents appears to be having an impact on output.

Table 1. Quaterly Patent and PGPub Counts*

Qn ..... Patents .....PGPubs ..... Total
Q1 ..... 43,657 ..... 77,962 ..... 121,619
Q2 ..... 49,353 ..... 77,691 ..... 127,044
Q3 ..... 40,869 ..... 72,421 ..... 113,290

*Based on preliminary weekly data from the USPTO website. Totals may change after the fact due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

Table 2. Weekly Averages and Medians (Q3)

Patents ..... 3,166 ..... 3,451
PGPubs ..... 6,161 ..... 6,315

Table 3. Number Ranges for 2008 (Totals)

Patents ..... 7,313,829 - 7,430,762 (116,331)
Reissues ..... RE39,964 - RE40,562 (561)
PGPubs ..... 2008/0000001 - 2008/0235840 (235,743)
Designs ..... D558,426 - D577,875 (19,424)
Plants ..... PP18,373 - PP19,278 (906)
SIRs ..... H2,208 - H2,223 (16)