Against the backdrop of new technology patent infringement claims and Congress voting on changes to the U.S. patent law, LexisNexis (http://www.lexisnexis.com/) introduced a new tool for patent professionals—patent attorneys, information professionals, researchers, and engineers. The company claims that its new TotalPatent service is "the most comprehensive and relevant, easy-to-use, Web-based patent research, analysis, and retrieval system available." TotalPatent is designed to be a single, online destination for worldwide patent content, comprising the full text of 22 of the world’s major patent authorities, which LexisNexis said is three times more than has been available from other providers. The service also includes the bibliographic and abstract data from 96 patent authorities and will provide exclusive analytical content including science journals from Elsevier.
TotalPatent provides access to 50 million compressed, multipage, searchable PDF documents—they are about 30 percent the size of normal PDFs and are faster to download. The service provides search forms for novice and expert users, including authority, language, and field selection; Boolean and proximity operators; and more. Users have the option to search for the information in the original language of publication or in English-language machine translations. They can also search images, legal status, citations, and patent family data. TotalPatent’s alerts and profiling features allow users to monitor trends, developments, and competitive activity. The tool provides a range of document views, including a handy side-by-side display of text and PDF. It offers a range of analytic and visualization tools including charts and graphs that can be exported to documents and slides.
"We are seeing global economic expansion, new product development, and patent-related legislation and regulation changes moving at an ever-increasing pace. TotalPatent was created with and for IP experts to help patent professionals succeed in this time of growth and change," said Peter Vanderheyden, vice president of Global Intellectual Property for LexisNexis.
Vanderheyden said that the company met with hundreds of organizations—small to large in various industry sectors—all through the new product’s 20-month iterative development process—on everything from the design of the Web-based search to the retrieval options. About 70 organizations participated as beta testers for 2 weeks in July. Two of these organizations have already signed as new customers.
The real strength of the product, said Vanderheyden, is its breadth—reaching beyond the seven big patent authorities. In this first release, English-language translations are available for several of the major authorities, as well as most European authorities. By the end of the year, TotalPatent will provide English-language machine translations for 17 patent authorities including the EPO and WIPO, as well as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. LexisNexis will continue to add more collections during 2008. Vanderheyden said that users in the Netherlands, for example, would be able to search Dutch patents in full text for the first time.
He said that some never-before digitally published collections would be available, such as British Granted Patents back to 1979. For this, LexisNexis obtained hard copies from a U.K. library, scanned and OCRed the text, and indexed and built the XML, full text, and PDFs.
TotalPatent is hosted at LexisNexis headquarters in Dayton, Ohio, using data fabricated by LexisNexis Univentio, which is based in Rijnsburg, the Netherlands. LexisNexis acquired Univentio in 2005, which served to beef up its intellectual property (IP) offerings, relative to Thomson. Univentio was founded in 1952 to provide patent document delivery, after which it began to aggregate and offer patent data for licensing. In 2004 it began to develop a patent search platform. Univentio was attractive to LexisNexis since it had many unique files not available elsewhere in electronic form. It also claimed to have the most comprehensive primary patent data collection in the world. This is now what LexisNexis is leveraging.
I asked Vanderheyden to clarify product names, since at the time of the acquisition Univentio had been developing a product that it called TotalPatent. He explained: "The product was never launched successfully and we determined that it was not going to meet our standards for reliability and performance to support our customer expectations and our brand. As such, we halted all work on the Univentio version and began to develop a completely new product. We just happened to use the same name but there is otherwise no connection between the two products."
He also explained that a product called PatentWarehouse was an early version of what Univentio had hoped would become "TotalPatent"—however, it was also inadequate for such a large-scale solution. He continued, "Univentio has an extensive patent content collection which we are using to source content to TotalPatent. We also license components of this database to others for in-house solutions and other purposes."
Not all TotalPatent content is available on lexis.com, though TotalPatent is built on the lexis.com platform and uses the same syntax, connectors, wildcards, etc., as lexis.com, and lexis.com users can seamlessly access TotalPatent. In talking with patent professionals, LexisNexis said it determined that a different interface with different tools and features would better suit their patent-searching needs.
TotalPatent complements several LexisNexis products such as the LexisNexis Patent Research Tasks page, the REEDFAX service, PatentOptimizer, LexisNexis CourtLink, other content on lexis.com, and more.
Several enhancements are due to be added to TotalPatent by late 2007. The service will add expert commentary and proprietary analytical content from industry authorities—including Chisum on Patents, Milgrim on Licensing, and many others. Prior-art content from 500 Elsevier science journals will also be added in mid-October. The company also plans linkages to other Elsevier products for nonpatent prior art.
Not all of TotalPatent’s distinctive features were available during the beta test period—the unique country coverage, the ability to look at indexes for inventor names, links to Elsevier content, etc. And, as expected, the beta testers signed nondisclosure agreements not to discuss the product. However, LexisNexis shared with me some of the raw (anonymous) users’ comments from its feedback logs. Most users thought the features and functionality worked well and seemed straightforward and intuitive. Many testers looked forward to the promised enhancements.
A number commented very favorably on the ability to search using a corporate hierarchy—TotalPatent has the Directory of Corporate Affiliations (DCA) built into the search tool, allowing users to add company subsidiaries to a search. One user wrote that "it was really nice to have it right there available on the search page (gets rid of the paper cheat sheet I keep on my desk for subsidiary companies.)"
One patent information specialist, Roy Zimmermann of Medtronic, Inc., commented that TotalPatent provides several things that other services don’t—at least not yet. It expands the availability of patents in full text substantially, "but it will do so via vast amounts of OCR creation of the full text, as well as machine translation into English. That will surely lead to some caviling about translations and accuracy of full text, but as you’ve seen, OCR has gotten much better in the past five years, as has MT." He also pointed out that TotalPatent will introduce "iterative search set logic to Lexis, where in the past, one could modify an existing search, but doing so to a search of any real complexity often got people into trouble due to order of operators rules confounding their results." Further, he noted that "The ability to link over to open literature cited references when they are Elsevier publications, the ability to link to patent law treatises, court dockets for litigated cases, case law opinions for decided litigations, etc. will produce a more comprehensive view of intellectual property."TotalPatent is available on a subscription basis based on customer’s needs and usage. Company representatives declined to give further pricing specifics, though they did say that a single user could sign up for a 1-month subscription for $250 using a credit card. One potential customer commented that this was "pretty cost effective by Lexis standards. I suspect there will be a lot of transactional add-ons charges to really use TotalPatent effectively, but at least, one can buy for a month to get a real thorough test drive without having to sign a major annual contract." Pricing is likely to be a crucial component to market acceptance.