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Thomson Scientific Launches Innovation for IP Research and Analysis
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Posted On December 10, 2007
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In our complex business environment, one of the keys to success is working smarter and faster than our competitors. Thomson Scientific (www.scientific.thomson.com) has launched a new product that it says will help customers do just that. Thomson Innovation (www.thomsoninnovation.com) is a new intellectual property research and analysis solution that integrates patent data with scientific literature and business information in a single platform that also provides analytical and workflow tools. By integrating multiple database sources, Thomson Innovation is designed to streamline research activities and give customers a complete view of the subject at hand. Thomson Innovation is being launched in phases. The first release includes global, full-text patent sources, including Japan. This will be followed in rapid succession by the addition of the Derwent World Patents Index (WPI), scientific literature (INSPEC, Web of Science, etc.), and business information and news (from Gale and Dialog Newsroom). A series of additional enhancements will be delivered throughout 2008.

The idea for Thomson Innovation emerged about 18 months ago, based on market research and user interface and workflow studies with customers. The product development took 12 to 16 months and involved alpha and beta test programs. About 500 professionals and researchers from 82 organizations were involved in the recent beta. David Brown, executive vice president of corporate markets at Thomson Scientific, said the company developed the new product to meet three goals:

  1. Equip customers to accelerate innovation while minimizing risk
  2. Help customers gain competitive advantage
  3. Maximize the value of customers’ R&D investment

Thomson Innovation sports a flexible and easy-to-use interface. Search preferences allow users to control the display and sorting of results for maximum effectiveness. Search features include an array of operators, targeted fields parsed for research precision, and multiple search styles for patent queries—fielded, publication number, and expert. A query window allows users to easily review and test their syntax.

Brown said they took every opportunity in the design and development of Thomson Innovation to improve its content and features over current Thomson Scientific offerings. "We worked to surface best-of-breed functionality from a range of products." The first release has similar—and superior—functionality to PatSearch FullText (PSFT), MPI and Delphion. It offers cross-search, analysis, and collaboration functionality. Enhancements will be added on an ongoing basis. The new product provides expanded Asian patent coverage, including translations of Japanese full-text and additional editorially enhanced abstracts of Chinese data.

Graphical Tools

Thomson Innovation’s charting features turn records from search results or saved work files into ranked lists or charts that can help identify key competitors, people, technologies, or trends. Flexible formatting options include bar, line, and pie charts, with display and color options, as well as support for multifielded ranked lists. Commonly used charts can be created in a single step, while a chart wizard guides users through more complex data and formatting configurations. Users can save charts within work files, alongside the relevant records, and then share these graphical tools across their organization.

A citation mapping feature displays all backward and forward references for a record in an interactive graphical map, allowing users to trace the evolution or dependencies of technology through time. By sorting or color-coding cited references according to the content, users can quickly uncover trends within the map. Key records identified within the map can be saved to a work file for later use. (This mapping feature was derived from Thomson’s Aureka product.)

Subscription Options

There are two subscription options in the first release of Thomson Innovation: Professional and Express. Professional subscriptions are for advanced users who have a solid understanding of information resources and research information sources multiple times each week. Professional users typically require complex search and analysis capabilities, relying heavily on visual displays and text mining to draw their conclusions.

Express subscriptions are designed for occasional searchers who conduct research on an infrequent basis and utilize relatively basic search strategies.

Brown said the company has made no decisions about discontinuing existing products. He expects the transition to Thomson Innovation will be customer-driven. Customers will be grouped according to their current products and the functionality required. They will be notified of their migration options at the appropriate time based on their product groups.

The Content Details

Searchable Patent Information

  • U.S. granted patents
  • U.S. published applications
  • European granted patents
  • European published applications
  • German granted patents
  • German published applications
  • German utility models
  • WIPO applications
  • British published applications
  • French published applications
  • Japanese published applications
  • Korean published applications
  • INPADOC data covering 60-plus countries and authorities
  • Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI)—coming in early 2008

Coming in Early 2008: Scientific Literature

Access to the scientific literature should prove useful to customers who want to investigate nonpatent prior art, trace an invention to its origin, track emerging ideas, uncover new markets and opportunities, gain competitive intelligence, monitor industry trends, or research potential partners. Content dates back to the late 1800s and comprises millions of unique records. Scientific literature in Thomson Innovation will include the following sources:

  • Web of Science: Retrospective searching of scientific literature, including the Science Citation Index, the Social Sciences Citation Index, and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index
  • Current Contents Connect: Complete bibliographic information from more than 8,000 scholarly journals and more than 2,000 books from Thomson Scientific
  • Inspec: Bibliographic database with 9 million records covering scientific journals, conferences, books, reports, and dissertations from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
  • ISI Proceedings: More than 4 million papers from more than 60,000 conferences including the Science & Technology and Social Science & Humanities editions, from Thomson Scientific

Coming in Early 2008: Business and News Information

Company: Ownership, location, trading activities, multiple year financial data, and annual reports from Gale’s Company Intelligence database and from Dialog

Market: Article and report summaries covering many aspects of industry and economic indicators from Gale’s TableBase

News: Retrospective coverage of market, company, product, and industry news from the Dialog NewsRoom (the news database is updated multiple times daily and contains abstracts and full-text records from a variety of sources compiling from 11,000 different publications)

Product: Information about ownership of products and coverage of press releases relating to product launches and other relevant news from Gale New Product Announcements/Plus (NPA/PLUS)

Research: Summaries of research conducted, affiliated government agencies for research organizations and universities, and directories of funding groups and organizations from the Gale Research Centers Directory

Product Assessments

All beta testing for Thomson Innovation was done under nondisclosure agreements, so participants haven’t been able to discuss any details with me. One did admit that he "found the whole less than the sum of its parts." Others suggested that pricing, which hasn’t been discussed in any detail, will have much to do with the product’s acceptance. Some worried that Thomson would push the package deal to customers that might only want a smaller and cheaper product.

The folks at Thomson did share the following comments from the product’s beta testers.

  • "What I see happening in general is that companies like Thomson are moving more and more towards fully integrated systems. There are a lot of tools, resources, databases, etc. available to searchers but it is often difficult to take information from one area and move it into another. Thomson Innovation looks to be another positive step in that direction." –Jim Johnson
  • "The interface and performance of Thomson Innovation is excellent. Its features are accessible and intuitive and I have been very happy with the speed at which the search results and reports are returned." –David Schoeneck
  • "Thomson Innovation is very helpful. I like its powerful interface and flexibility with respect to customization. The capability for exporting larger numbers of records in a compressed (zip) format is a huge time saver for information retrieval." –David Schoeneck

Marji McClure, blogging for the InfoCommerce Group, Inc. (www.infocommercegroup.com/blog), stressed that this was a smart move by Thomson: "Customers today demand integrated solutions that enable them to accomplish their goals in one place without the need to move from one platform to another. This is obviously a great thing for service providers because it’s a model that can naturally help boost customer retention and loyalty. Simply put: if customers can get everything they need from your company all in one place, they won’t be motivated to seek out the services of a competitor."

However, a high-end product like Thomson Innovation faces pressure from both ends of the competitive spectrum—other high end products and low-end, cheap, or free web-based alternatives. One patent information specialist had this keen observation:

"Reed Elsevier/Lexis has already launched its big new product, TotalPatent, which came to market at a quite competitive price, offers far more full text, more machine-translations of non-English into English patents full text, etc. Meanwhile, low-end products, like FreePatentsOnline, keep popping up, adding more content, more features, etc. Exclusive of the chem/pharma/energy sectors, where value-added indexing from Derwent may yield more focused results, but at considerable cost, one wonders for how long the very expensive patent information providers will find a growing market? You also wonder, as web interfaces bring more and more power of iterative set logic searching, more elaborate reporting capabilities, lots of data export options, etc., how the online traditionals will maintain their premium pricing for patent full-text databases?"

[ For more information on TotalPatent from LexisNexis, see the NewsBreak at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbReader.asp?ArticleId=39623. —Ed.]


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.



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