Remember the IBM Intellectual Property Network? Last year, with funding from the Internet Capital Group, IBM spun it and other technologies out to form Delphion, an independent company. Delphion recently announced some changes and one major addition to its resources.
First, the Delphion site (http://www.delphion.com) has a new look and new navigational capabilities. The navigation bar on top of every page (except the home page) has extensive sub-menus, so that users can reach more parts of the site directly from wherever they are. A click on the Delphion logo (upper left) takes users back to the home page. Links to a site map and online help are available on the bottom of every page. A menu that runs down the left side of most pages takes searchers directly to different search options: quick, Boolean, advanced, or patent-number.
Second, patents available for licensing are now directly searchable. In the old IBM and Delphion systems, patents were marked with a pink dot if their owners wanted to license them to outside buyers. However, you couldn't search for a subset of patents marked with the pink dot; you had to pick them out from broader searches. Fortunately, that has just changed. Licensing buttons still show up in normal search results. But also, if you click on IP Listings (in the sub-menu under IP Search), you can retrieve a search form that works only on patents listed as available for licensing. The service allows you to search with all the parameters of a normal subject search. You can then click on the blue "L" (which replaced the pink dot) to retrieve contact information for the patent's owner. Each license button costs the patent owner $150 per year.
Third, even if a patent isn't listed with a licensing button, you can still investigate the possibility of licensing it. From a Delphion record—which covers WO (World), US (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office), EP (European Patent Office), and JP (Japanese Patent Office) patents—you can click on the "Inquire Regarding Licensing" button to fill out a form that goes back to Delphion. Delphion, in turn, refers you to a technology-transfer specialist. The specialist helps you contact the patent owner and negotiate possible licensing.
The biggest news is that users may now search the Derwent World Patents Index via the Delphion site. Derwent on Delphion is available to both subscribers and nonsubscribers.
For readers not familiar with Derwent, the organization processes and mounts data from published and granted patents from over 40 sources—both individual countries and multicountry patenting authorities like the European Patent Office (EP patents) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (WO patents). In the process, Derwent adds considerable value to the patent information: descriptive titles and extensive abstracts, International Patent Classes from all the patent family members, and multiple levels of Derwent-created subject indexing.
Traditionally, all but the broadest subject indexing has been available only to companies that subscribe to Derwent—a subscription that provides access to all the indexing over all subject areas costs around $100,000 per year. The Derwent mounting on Delphion for the first time gives nonsubscribers access to the "deep indexing" (manual codes, chemical codes, polymer indexing, ring index numbers, compound numbers, and Derwent registry numbers). Pricing (which may change) is as follows: Each search (with the exception of Derwent deep indexing) costs $5 for subscribers and $8 for nonsubscribers. Each search that uses any of Derwent's deep indexing costs $59 for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike. Displays of basic information—which can include Derwent title, patent number, issue date, inventor, assignee, and International Patent Classes—cost subscribers 20 or 25 cents (depending on the level of subscription) and nonsubscribers 50 cents. The system defaults to 10 of these short records per page. The display of a full Derwent record costs subscribers $1.70 to $2.50 and nonsubscribers $4.50.
However, there's a hitch beyond the pricing. Derwent's chemical codes must be linked to each other if the searcher is to stand a chance of finding patents in which the various substructures actually appear in the same compound. Derwent's current polymer indexing (applied since 1993) requires three levels of linking for maximum-precision searches. The Delphion site gives no hint that any of the linking features that Derwent requires are available. In fact, after some digging, I discovered that the Verity command language does permit multilevel linking. However, it's very laborious and documentation is not yet available on how to do it.
There's also another problem. The Delphion platform doesn't permit the creation and combination of Boolean sets. The best you can do is enter your search in one search statement, and then go back and refine it if the first pass didn't get what you want. The pricing makes this impractical. As mentioned above, a single search using any of the Derwent deep indexing currently costs $59—and refining a search query counts as another search. Searchers may, of course, practice and refine their searches in the "demo" search forms—accessing 1-week's worth of Derwent's records—before committing to the paid searches.
Whatever challenges Derwent's searching may present on Delphion, the site's follow-up capabilities are as good when using Derwent search results as they are when using other Delphion searches. For instance, suppose a Derwent record that you retrieved in a search shows a patent number from one of the patenting authorities that Delphion covers: US, EP, WO, and JP. If you click on the patent number, the system takes you to the Delphion record. From that record you have further links to patent images (full patents for US, EP, and WO; Patent Abstracts of Japan for JP), older patents cited in this patent and more recent patents citing it, legal-status information about the patent (for all but JP patents), and full patent-family information. You can also link to information about the patenting company, but for now this takes you to other search sites rather than directly to the information. And, of course, you can order Adobe PDF images of the patents. One caveat: You must display (and pay for) the full Derwent records in order to link to the Delphion records.
Delphion targets the end-user market, not patent information specialists. Its current system is just too basic to handle the challenges of searching Derwent to its full potential. So we continue to watch and wait.
[Editor's Note: For more information about the Derwent/Delphion situation, see Nancy Lambert's Better Mousetrap column in the May issue of Searcher.]