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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. Further subjective information is presented in clearly labeled "Editor's Notes" throughout the report.
The IP.com Prior Art Database was formed to provide a central location for companies and individuals to publish and search technical disclosures (defensive publications). IP.com is unique in that it focuses exclusively on defensive publications and does not concern itself with actual patent documents. IP.com accepts technical disclosure submissions and publishes these disclosures online on IP.com as well in print in the IP.com Journal, which is published 24 times per year and distributed to patent offices and libraries. Much of the content within the IP.com Prior Art Database is exclusive to IP.com.
In addition to these submissions, IP.com also hosts complete backfiles of technical disclosures from companies and organizations including Motorola, Xerox, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. All documents in the IP.com database are full-text searchable. To access the full functionality of IP.com, a search subscription is required. However, IP.com does offer free “guest” access to the system with limited functionality.
IP.com Prior Art Database is fairly unique among non-patent literature search tools due to the inclusion of the Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) Concept Search feature. Some of the other information retrieval technologies featured on IP.com such as phonic searching, numeric range searching, and variable term weighting are also fairly unique and powerful.
In 2009 the IP.com website introduced the IP.com Intellectual Property Library, a free search interface available from the IP.com website. This service offers a free patent search engine which also searches the IP.com prior art database - although technical disclosures discovered through the Intellectual Property Library are still behind a paywall, this search engine offers users the opportunity to identify potentially relevant documents from the IP.com database without becoming a paying subscriber to the IP.com Prior Art Database.
Surprisingly, the free IP.com Intellectual Property Library search interface seems preferable over the subscription search interface, for a number of reasons. First, the subscription interface will time out after finding 500 results related to a user's query, but no limitation is placed on hits returned from the free interface. Furthermore, in addition to offering free patent searching, the Intellectual Property Library interface offers more sorting options from the hit list.
These differences probably appear simply because the free Intellectual Property Library interface was designed much more recently than the subscription interface. However, since it does not make much sense to offer an inferior search service as part of a subscription package, users should probably expect to see these desirable features from the free interface appear in the subscription search interface as system development continues. Until this happens, subscription users may prefer to search using the free interface, and then to log in to the subscription interface to download results of interest.