New Patent Search Technology to Aid Inventors

by Emily on January 27, 2016

in Articles

notebook_patentGood news for inventors—doing a patent search just got much easier. Thanks to computer scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, innovators can make sure their idea is actually new and original, prior to navigating the complex patent process.

Here is a look at the features of this new software, how it will help you as an inventor and how it cuts back on exploitation by patent trolls.

Efficient and Effective Searches

The team at UMass Amherst created an algorithm that quickly removes ambiguity from patent records. It is at the core of the new patent search platform called PatentsView.

Their solution provided the fastest and most accurate results of all entries in a worldwide competition. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the contest attracted entries from China, Australia, Belgium, Germany and the U.S.

Ambiguities were common in earlier search technology. In many old patent records, inventors appear with different names, spelled in various ways or using nicknames. Inventors with the same name also made searching difficult.

In the past, searches often required a human to perform to step in. This manual intervention made the entire process even more time-consuming. It was also no guarantee that all the variations would be caught.

Save Time and Money

As an inventor, you need the critical information that a thorough, worldwide search gives you before filing a patent application. Your idea must be globally unique before it is considered patentable. That’s quite a job for a lone inventor to take on.

That’s why creators all over the world are so excited about PatentsView. It tells them quickly, before they have wasted time on an idea, whether or not it has already been patented somewhere in the world. It also tells them about applications filed but not granted, which is also helpful.

PatentsView levels the searching field by providing every inventor with up-to-date, accurate information. In the past, a really complete search required time, skill and effort. Only a few people could do that.

The Dark Side of Searching

Patent trolls are the underbelly of the patent process. Using shady tactics, they buy patents and enforce them by litigation or exploiting licensing rules. They file frivolous lawsuits, claiming patent rights that are vague and too broad.

As an example, patent troll Email Link sued businesses in Las Vegas, like Hard Rock hotels, Treasure Island and a number of casinos. The charge was sending with emails with links in them. When clicked, these links took the addressee to a website. No matter that millions of people worldwide perform exactly this same action on billions of emails daily. Because it owns a patent, Email Link says it controls that specific technology.

These types of suits can cost companies millions to defend or simply settle to avoid big lawyer bills. Trolls have cost the economy close to half a trillion dollars from 1990 to 2010, according to one study.

Most companies targeted are much smaller than the Las Vegas casinos. In fact, in 2011, nine out of ten companies dealing with a patent suit averaged less than $11 million in annual revenue.

The accurate data provided by PatentsView is making the patent process easier and more accurate for inventors around the world. It is also helping to eliminate shady operators like Email Link and other patent trolls.

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