What`s in a name?

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Delegates at IPI Confex will hear about the latest efforts to standardise at least one part of the patent application process. Tim Gillett reports

The issue of using consistent naming conventions in patent applications is likely to be one of the hottest topics at IPI Confex, which will be held in Rome next month.

The three-day conference, now in its 11th year, is promoted as the premier event in Europe for patent information professionals, with a conference, exhibition, a wide array of workshops, and plenty of networking opportunities.

According to Stephen Adams, managing director of UK-based patent documentation consultancy Magister – who will be speaking at the event – the problem of names, whether of actual individuals or corporate bodies, is one of the most complex in dealing with patent information.

He said: ‘It strikes at the heart of understanding intellectual property as an asset which is owned, managed and traded. Individual patent records and compiled databases may record what purports to be the same information in different ways.

Since name information is often dynamic as well, the question of updating or amending database records is also important, both to retain historical trends and to understand the current legal situation on ownership. There are many challenges, and some solutions, to the questions of searching for patent assignment, during prosecution and after grant.’

Adams explained that the session will examine both bibliographic and legal status sources to understand how name data are recorded (assuming that they are indeed recorded), including questions of re-assignment in national registers, transliteration from non-Latin languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Cyrillic alphabets, and the ‘simpler’ problems of Latin language diacritics and how they have been handled over time.

Daniel Shalloe, from the European Patent Office, agreed that the subject of accurate naming was a key issue in the world of patent information.

He told Research Information: ‘With all the mergers and acquisitions going on at the moment, with companies changing their names – and through simple slapdash behaviour – this has become a problem.

‘For example in one application an applicant might be Tom Jones, in another one Mr T Jones, and another one T Jones Ltd. How does one determine that these are the same applicants? Standardisation would obviously be beneficial, so applicants are effectively a number rather than a name – but we don’t have that in Europe yet. When you are doing patent analysis it is critical to get your understanding of the people you are dealing with right,  otherwise you are going to miss a whole pile of data and end up with the wrong result.

‘There are occasionally ulterior motives too – of course I  am not going to name anybody, but you can see that if you want to confuse people you can use a load of different names for your company and people will be confused about which patents you have and which ones you don’t have. There are also instances of the use of intermediary companies to effectively draw a veil over patent portfolios.’

Other issues covered in the conference programme, which runs from 8 to 11 March, include: visionary perspectives from industry experts; current news and other ‘hot topics’; latest developments concerning commercially available products and services; free patent databases and other resources available worldwide for intellectual property research; ‘how-to’ technical discussions; and continuing education and training through add-on workshops and seminar.


Workshop to assist delegates with 'competitive intelligence'

Minesoft’s Workshop at IPI Confex 2015 will focus on a range of solutions designed to assist organisations with a competitive intelligence strategy based around patents.

Patent data is increasingly recognised as an essential source of competitive intelligence, and the systematic retrieval, monitoring and analysis of patent information can help inform strategic decisions and steer corporate strategy. Effective exploitation of patent information can identify both competitors and potential collaborators, as well as reveal technology trends and white space opportunities. 

Transforming patent information into intelligence requires analysis and interpretation. In the last quarter of 2014, and adding to the strengths of PatBase – a global patent database co-produced by Minesoft and RWS Group – PatBase Analytics was launched.

Ann Chapman, director of Minesoft, explained: ‘PatBase Analytics is a software module that has been designed to process large patent data sets at high speeds to produce clear, interactive graphs and charts enabling meaningful insights to be extracted by patent professionals. A customisable analytics dashboard and the ability to manage patent assignee groupings are among the features that enable PatBase users to manipulate, understand and effectively present the patent data they have retrieved from searches.

‘Systematically monitoring published patent information is an important aspect of a competitive intelligence strategy. Minesoft’s PatentArchive solution, which will also be presented at IPI Confex, is a patent knowledge management solution that tracks and captures relevant published patent information and enables organisation to harness internal expertise to interpret and add value to the data.

‘PatentArchive integrates global patent data with a tailored workflow for monitoring, classification and dissemination of patent records. Corporations investing heavily in R&D are increasingly looking to software like PatentArchive as a solution to managing large volumes of data and extracting intelligence.’

Certain components of patent data are of interest in the context of gaining competitive intelligence – legal status and citations being two such elements, according to Minesoft.

Chapman continued: ‘Keeping track of legal status events during the lifetime of patents of interest enables companies to follow competitor patent activity on a micro-level, while monitoring patent citations gives an idea of “hot” new technologies for the competition or who is encroaching in your space. Minesoft will present two new alerting services at IPI Confex 2015, centred around these two aspects.

‘CiteTracker automatically monitors patent citations published globally and delivers concise reports to inform current awareness – allowing users to track who is citing their patents and what they are citing. Legal Status Tracker is a new service that closely monitors changes to legal status of patents, including oppositions, withdrawals or changes in patent ownership.

‘Patent data represents a deep pool of competitive intelligence which, with the right tools for searching, archiving, monitoring and analysing can inform decisions and guide strategy throughout the innovation lifecycle.’