Answers for Searching

Duplicity

Oct 19, 2019, 10:53:01 AM / by Curtis Wadsworth, Founder, CEO

Two-thirds of the almost 150 patent lawyers and agents we talked to over the last year, describe duplicates in the returned results as a major problem with current search tools. We have a plan for removing duplicates that appears to be working pretty well in testing. The best part is that we can use what we learned finding duplicates to add even more value platform. We’ll talk about our solution in a future post.

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The first step in solving a problem is developing a deep understanding of the problem. Duplicate results appear as continuations, divisionals, European, WIPO, or other foreign equivalents of a first-filed, parent publication. The equivalents are identical to the parent publication, but have unique publication numbers and other identifiers. Since search engines score these identical references very closely, duplicates begin appearing within the first 5-10 return results, which pushes other potentially relevant publications further down the list of return results, wastes a LOT of reviewer time, and is extremely frustrating. If you want to improve the efficiency of patent searching (like we do), removing duplicates is a great place to start.

To get a better idea of the size of the duplicate problem. We analyzed total patent filings from the top 10 patent offices in 2017 (the last year for which complete data is available). Some of the results were shocking. Table 1 provides the list of top 10 patent filing countries.

Rank

Country

Total Filings

Percent Worldwide

1

China

1,381,594

45.36%

2

United States

606,956

19.93%

3

Japan

318,479

10.46%

4

Korea

204,775

6.72%

5

EPO (European Patent Office)

166,585

5.47%

6

Germany

67,712

2.22%

7

India

46,582

1.53%

8

Russia

36,883

1.21%

9

Canada

35,002

1.15%

10

Australia

28,906

0.95%

These 10 patent office represent 95.3% of the total worldwide filings. China, U.S., Japan, and Korea makeup 76% of the worldwide total patent filings.

Interestingly, 54.8% of the patents filed in the U.S. (332,522) identify foreign inventors. These patent publications most likely have a foreign equivalent filed somewhere in the world, creating duplicates. Meanwhile, 60.5% of patents filed in the U.S. identifying U.S. inventors are also filed internationally as PCT applications. Presumably, nearly all of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) publications, representing PCT filings, identifying U.S. inventors are duplicative of publications in U.S. database, and nearly all of the U.S. publications identifying foreign inventors are duplicated in the PCT. This leaves 13.6% (~191,000) unique patent publications in the U.S. database.

Table 2 shows how the rest of the top 10 stack up:

Country

% Filed in US

% Filed in PCT

China

2.47%

2.65%

US

0.00%

60.47%

Japan

28.06%

40.85%

Korea

18.57%

12.80%

EPO

57.25%

 

Germany

48.40%

104.33%

India

19.57%

9.74%

Russia

3.28%

5.86%

Canada

40.47%

26.19%

Australia

9.36%

25.76%

With the exception of China and Russia, a relatively high percentage of foreign applications are represented in the U.S. and PCT/WIPO databases. To be sure, there are important references that are not filed internationally, but these databases give you fairly good coverage of important patent filings. We will be incorporating foreign patent databases into Dorothy soon, giving us the same breadth as other patent search platforms.

Surprisingly, only 2.65% of the patent applications filed in China were also filed internationally. That equates to less than 40,000 patent applications! Here is a great article explaining the Chinese strategy for becoming a worldwide innovation leader. Basically, Chinese Universities are forced to file patents on everything and Chinese NPE’s (non-practicing entities) are filing utility model patents, which are not examined but have a 10 year term, that are identical to U.S. and other non-Chinese issued patents. These NPE’s use these utility model patents to extract royalties from non-Chinese companies doing business in China.

We will be incorporating the Chinese database into our platform. The $100,000 upfront and $50,000 per year price tag for the Chinese database is a bit much. Luckily, our friends at the Korean patent office have an API that includes the Chinese database that is much more reasonably priced.

Tags: Patent Law, lawyer, Legal Tech, Creative Solutions, Extreme Problem Solving, Startup