MicroPatent, the Connecticut-based information company that currently provides the largest range of full-text-searchable patent databases, recently announced some new products and services.
MicroPatent's Patent Index Database
MicroPatent has for some time offered access to Inpadoc, the EPO (European Patent Office) database of bibliographic information from 71 countries. The company is replacing this with a new product, the MicroPatent Patent Index Database (MPI). MPI will incorporate information from Inpadoc with information from DOC.db, the patent database used in-house by EPO examiners.
DOC.db contains bibliographic information, including English-language titles and abstracts for many of the countries covered. It is also a subject-searchable file, including three kinds of patent classifications: U.S. patent classes, International Patent Classes, and the more detailed ECLA codes applied by the EPO examiners. ECLA codes are available for almost all the documents in DOC.db and appear on at least one member of each patent family. Both U.S. and ECLA classes change as technologies change, and examiners re-classify old patents into new classes. MicroPatent plans to load class changes into MPI as they become available so that class searching will remain up-to-date.
DOC.db, the basis for Esp@cenet (the EPO's patent information Web-based service), covers the same 71 countries and goes back as far as 1877 for Germany and mostly to the 1920s for the U.S. and major European countries. It provides the same legal status information as Inpadoc.
MicroPatent will enhance MPI by providing drawings linked in from its full-text files for all patenting authorities that include drawings in their documents. MicroPatent full-text files now include patents and published applications from the U.S., the EPO, the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty, or "World" patents), Japan, Great Britain, Germany, and (soon) France. MicroPatent is also providing searchable patent citation data from U.S., EPO, and PCT documents, some of it taken directly from U.S. patents and some of it from files provided by the EPO with all EPO and PCT patent citations.
Records will also appear in MPI with a shorter time lag than in Inpadoc, which usually takes a few weeks to mount U.S. or PCT records. MicroPatent will fill in bibliographic data for current documents from its own sources, usually in three days or less from publication/grant.
MicroPatent bought the bankrupt Aurigin last year and has just launched its version of the product, Aureka 8.0. Like Aurigin, Aureka 8.0 provides a variety of patent analysis tools, including patent clustering and citation trees, and collaborative features, such as permitting clients to annotate documents and share them with colleagues. Aureka 8.0 will go up initially with the old Aurigin databases and software, but MicroPatent plans in 2003 to provide improved patent coverage from its own databases and improved searchability from its BRS software. The company will add some enhanced reporting and workflow options and will integrate features from its other products into Aureka.
In the current release, clients can analyze more than just patents. They can add both patent and non-patent information from both corporate and outside sources, thus using Aureka's analytical capabilities on such document types as invention disclosures, pending patent applications, journal articles, lab notebook text, white papers, and internal technical reports.
Aureka 8.0, like Aurigin before it, will be available in two formats. Clients who want their data behind a firewall can choose to have MicroPatent install an applications server on site on which they can store all their own work product. Alternatively, clients can access the new Aureka on MicroPatent's Web site.
Subscriptions to Aureka 8.0 will be independent of subscriptions to MicroPatent's databases. Access will exist on three levels (gold, silver, and bronze), and pricing will depend on the size of the subscriber company, the number of users, and the subscription level. In general, subscription prices will be lower than they were for comparable Aurigin subscriptions and will range between five and six figures annually.
Intellectual Asset Management
Information Holdings, Inc. (IHI), MicroPatent's parent company, has been acquiring companies and services with an ambitious goal: it wants to help client companies with the entire process of managing their intellectual property (IP) assets from start to finish—from the conception of patentable ideas and trademarks to the payment of trademark renewals and maintenance fees for granted patents. To accomplish this, it is integrating services from three IHI companies: MicroPatent, for patent search and analysis; Trademark.com, for trademark information and tracking; and Master Data Center, for patent management (docketing, licensing, maintenance fees) and trademark renewals.
The Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) services include auditing a company's existing IP systems, consulting on improved IP systems, implementing new systems and developing internal databases for them, and training clients to use the new systems.
IP work in a typical company includes managing invention disclosures, filing and prosecuting patents, keeping track of granted patents in terms of who within the company owns them and decides whether or not to pay maintenance fees, paying the maintenance fees, and licensing the patents to outside customers. Docketing-keeping track of important dates, such as when to respond to patent examiners' office actions and when to pay maintenance fees-is an important part of this.
IHI notes a trend in companies—not to piece out all this work to different parts of the company that don't necessarily communicate with each other effectively. IAM services will help client companies create information repositories that everyone involved—researchers, patent information specialists, attorneys, licensing people, research managers—can access. To this end, IHI will continue to integrate features between different resources to make it easier for clients to use more services in more applications, for instance, to use Aureka analysis tools on documents contained in internal databases (invention disclosures, patent applications, etc.).