Errors and Incompleteness of Patent Research
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
The purpose of this work is not to denigrate information resources, departments, providers, but to reveal the causes of errors, incompleteness of patent research.
Any work, service, thing must be done so that it is as high quality as possible, quickly, and cheaply.
In practice, these three parameters can survive if they split into pairs. High quality and fast but expensive, fast, and cheap but poor quality, cheap and high quality but for a very long time.
The roots of the problem lie in myths, misconceptions, inaccuracies, and illiteracy. Further, I would like to gradually analyze this.
1. The Patent Office has issued a patent, which means it has carried out a search for a complete, absolute world novelty.
Yes, indeed, almost all patent offices carrying out checking of patent applications check for compliance with the criterion "absolute world novelty", BUT within the limits of the PO's capabilities, i.e. within the resources available to the PO, libraries, databases, and examiners. At the same time, even the European and American POs do not take any responsibility for the quality of search and examination results. At the same time, I give an account of how much work was expended and pay tribute to the patent offices and their efforts to ensure quality, since I have worked in the office for a long time and am familiar with similar work being carried out in other offices.
2. There are abstracts (mostly in English) sources of patent information – you can completely search for them.
There are, moreover, thousands of people are working on their filling. You can search.
BUT! There are such concepts as efficiency, information content, breadth, depth.
Efficiency – the time from the publication by the department (publisher) of the patent (article) to the entry into the database can be months or even years.
Informativeness – the volume of a patent or article description is rarely less than 2 pages and a couple of illustrations, and the volume of an abstract is recommended up to 250 words, usually 50-100, and it is very good if with one illustration.
Breadth – for patents, this is the number of office countries and sometimes headings in the patent classification.
For "non-patents" – a list of publications, publishers.
Depth – here the indicators are also not clear, usually firms prefer to indicate the earliest document, without indicating the year from which the complete, without gaps, the database compilation begins, for the specified country.
It should also be noted that the providers of these information products are making significant efforts to fill the gaps, expand the list of countries, and eliminate errors.
3. A commercial resource is better, more complete than a free one.
Yes, better, fuller, but as mentioned above, not everywhere and not always. For example, free Esp@cent has a larger list of countries than Derwent or CAS, which can provide high speed, significant depth, and acceptable reliability, but with the indicated restrictions. There are known problems in commercial resources with arrays of 1993-2005 in the countries of the former USSR, except for the Russian Federation; India until 2004, etc. The reason for this is both in the fact that commercial organizations primarily process those areas that are in the greatest demand, and in the insufficient activity of departments, whose position is not entirely adequate to their slogans.
4. We have received a "strong" patent and have been resting on our laurels for 20 years, surpassing our competitors.
Provided that they hired a search engine-analyst-paranoid (preferably several), which searches through arrays of documents, looks for "gray documentation", digs paper and Google. Why?
The patent office employs up to 5000 experts, on average 50-200. The international classification includes over 250,000 categories. According to various estimates, the world patent fund has 10-70 million patents. Scientific, Patent Associated Literature Foundation – for 100 million articles, Google – billions of pages.
Competitors are also busy looking for documents discrediting the novelty that have escaped the eyes of an expert and patent holder, workarounds.