While a lot of focus among patent database is being given to newer analytic techniques, legal status analysis and newer types of visualizations, not much of innovation has happened in how a database chooses which record to display from the result set, a step that is critical for many types of patent projects except perhaps patentability. Most databases force a user to view a record from preset country priority order and the users thereby are left to either investigate each family member or export the data to extract meaningful statistics.

All currently available databases can be categorized into the following two types: (Simple/Extended) Family based databases or Publication based databases.

Family based databases enforce results to be unique families each of which can be of one type mostly – Simple Family, Extended (INPADOC) Family or a variation of INPADOC wherein custom rules are applied to break large families into smaller sets. The result you see is usually a US, EP or WO record if present. It isn’t possible to view the results by a particular country of choice. Recent articles [1] [2] at Patinformatics.com suggest that using any one type of family definition can be misleading in many cases without delving deeper into the nature of the portfolios held.

Publication-based databases allow uses to search in individual records after which the user can choose to collapse/group the results by Family.  Even here, if you group results by family you just cannot ensure that the country you selected will be the one displayed.

So you can quickly find yourself not being able to view and analyze the result set exactly the way you want. Lets take a deeper look into some of these requirements:

Requirement

Usually needed for

Family Based Database

Publication Based Database with Family Collapse

Advantage held by?

Can I find how many unique patents and applications are held by my competitor in XYZ technology in US? FTO/Clearance, Competitive Monitoring, Valuation No – A user will have to export families and then count their individual members separately  either manually or using patent analysis tools Yes Publication based databases
If I search by say Assignee and IPC can I view and analyze all Brazil (BR) records in my results even if the search query matched a family equivalent and not the BR record itself? FTO/Clearance, Infringement Yes – You can and restrict results to only those families that have a BR record. You still need to export the data to extract and analyze only the BR members. No – A user will have to search by IPC, export all matching results and then extract the BR Records from those families that have one manually or using patent analysis tools. Family based databases
Capability to decide which record shows up in my result view when searching unique families FTO/Clearance Very Limited / Not present at all – You need to manually go through the family table always. Limited – User can specify an authority but it will not appear in the result view if the particular record itself dosent match the search query. Neither

 

Consequently most patent researchers are forced to export data before beginning any type of analysis no matter how simple the task may be.

Due to recent enhancements made to PatSeer, we are excited to call it the first true hybrid database that helps resolve some of these fundamental challenges. We integrate a dual-family definitions engine and a publication based engine at search level itself to combine the benefits of both databases and offer you full flexibility in how you search, display and view your result-set.

So while records in PatSeer show up as individual publications when you collapse them by Extended or Simple Family, your results viewing and subsequent analysis (lists/charts) can be completely controlled by giving a country preference. Your preferred country’s record will be selected even its equivalent has matched you search query. This way if you are interested to view and analyze only records for a particular country, you are sure that the results you see comprehensively cover all matching inventions filed in that country.

So how does PatSeer fare against the requirements in the above table?

Requirement

PatSeer

Can I find how many unique patents and applications are held by my competitor in XYZ technology in US? Yes – Since all records are also tagged as being either a Patent/Application/Utility you can easily plot your competitors portfolio into respective counts.
If I search by say Assignee and IPC can I view and analyze all Brazil (BR) records in my results even if the search query matched a family equivalent and not the BR record itself? Yes – You can set BR records and filter and analyze them statistically too. As the filters work just like your search, filtering by an IPC will show up the BR record even if it matches any family member and not the BR record itself.
Capability to decide which record shows up in my result view when searching unique families Yes – Your country preference will decide how results are shown. When multiple members of a country are present in a family, a date order can also help you decide if you want to see the latest/earliest record.

At PatSeer we continue to innovate to meet greater challenges faced by patent researchers so we would love to hear from you if you think the above capabilities hold merit for your analysis needs.