Update from the Patent Information Users Group Conference - "Indexing and Classification when Searching and Analyzing Patents"

Every year, the Patent Information Users Group conference features well-known experts on patent information for technology research, legal research, patent licensing, and related activities.  In addition to the three-day technical sessions, it includes in-depth workshops on various patent topics and products.   The conference attendees are mostly scientific and technical professionals with an interest in patents.   In recent years, the conference drew 320-330 attendees from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is expected that 400 attendees will attend in 2011.

The conference theme for 2011 is "Best Practices Beyond Free-text: The Value of Indexing and Classification when Searching and Analyzing Patents."  This topic is becoming increasingly important, as patent offices worldwide publish ever increasing numbers of patents.   The patent offices are not only publishing larger numbers of patents, but they are also constantly implementing other changes  Marla Grossman, Executive Director for the Coalition for Patent and Trademark Information Dissemination (an organization in which Reed Elsevier is a member), spoke on "Potential Changes on the Horizon in US Patent Law and at the US Patent Office".   She noted that the new Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in Congress's House of Representatives has indicated that patent law reform will be one of his top priorities this year.  She also highlighted that the patent information user community will be impacted by issues such as post grant review and re-examination, supplemental examinations, third party submission of prior art and prior public availability.

Next, Dr. Marti Hearst, Chief IT Strategist at the USPTO, spoke on "Introducing User-Centered Design at the USPTO for Modernization of the Patent Examination IT System".  This project is the famous "Patents End-to-End project."   Its goal is to reengineer the processes and the infrastructure used in patent examination.  It is making use of  User-Centered Design, which is a  new concept to the USPTO.    Dr. Hearst's team is creating a new patent examiners' user interface using information from interviews, focus groups, and surveys from hundreds of examiners.

Another highlight of Monday's sessions was the presentation by Cindy Poulos, Vice President of Product Management, IP Solutions, Thomson Reuters.  Ms. Poulos spoke on the technology available in Thomson's Innovation product that allows the user to add his own indexing.   She noted that  classification and indexing appears in patents that are published by the patent offices.  The patent offices use the International Patent Classification system (IPC) and the classification systems from the national offices (such as the US Class) and proprietary solutions such as DWPI Manual Codes.   She noted that these are very important,  but  they do not have the context of how the technology described within patents is relevant to the searcher's organization.   She described how searchers can use their  own indexing and classification system by adding as many as 100 fields of data to their search results.   This is termed "custom fields".  It improves the quality of research by allowing internal subject matter experts to evaluate and add internal categorizations to research results.

Tomorrow's sessions will focus on innovations in indexing and classification by the patent offices.  It will be great to hear the presentations by representatives from the US Patent Office and the European Patent Office!

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