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The following section contains subjective comments about the system that represent our editor's opinions, and should not be viewed as fact. Editor's opinions include positive and negative judgments about the product written in consideration of wider context, including related products and the industry at large.
The hit list is quick loading and provides enough information with the abstract portion for users to make informed choices about which records to investigate. However, it lacks the ability to sort on the fly, and it also does not display any patent drawings, which can slow workflow.
Viewing full text is fast and organized well, with the added benefit of loading entirely on one page for easier searching and requiring less mouse clicks to find all of the important bibliographic and full text information. Due to the one page system, the user will never have to do anything but browse or find-in-browser to locate the appropriate section.
Citations can be confusing to a user unfamiliar with the system. References are split up into domestic, foreign, and other categories; the first two of which change depending on the origin of the current patent document. Additionally, users are required to take an extra step to search for forward citations, which can hamper workflow. Some research on the user’s part may be required to understand the difference between domestic and foreign references.
Saving documents and searches is a simple and accessible process in FreePatentsOnline. Users can manage searches, alerts, and saved records over multiple portfolios in a simple and clear interface that is easy to learn without documentation.
During testing, users came across several bugs such as the system saying that wildcard searching was currently unavailable or alerts not properly being delivered. The level of bugs or errors was noticeable and persisted over several weeks.
On the whole, FreePatentsOnline has a simple and usable interface. There are a few interface choices that slow workflow such as the lack of customizable hit list and record view, lack of ability to sort in the hit list, and lack of drawings anywhere but in the PDF version of the record. Another notable omission is the lack of a query history feature, which can hamper search professionals. In spite of these, FreePatentsOnline offers a more complex and detailed experience than most of its free peers, with options for portfolio and alert management.
Testing done by Michael White, librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University, shows that FreePatentsOnline compares very favorably to the USPTO search system and Patent Lens in terms of searching by inventor, assignee, title keyword, USPC, and full document image coverage. 
The system is catered to a user between the skill levels of novice and advanced, falling just shy of professional, and in that regard it is appropriately laid out.
- ↑ White, Michael. "Comparison of Free Patent Databases." September 26, 2008. http://patentlibrarian.blogspot.com/2008/09/comparison-of-free-patent-databases.html. Accessed September 29, 2008.