Report:MicroPatent PatentWeb/Viewing Results/Viewing Patent Full Text and Images
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Viewing Patent Full Text and Images
After skimming the results set, the user may select the first document number in the hitlist to begin reviewing the full text records individually. The full text record of the document begins with the abstract, and the single thumbnail image when available (typically this is the image displayed on the front page of the actual patent document). Complete bibliographic information, including classification and citation data, follow the abstract; finally, the patent specification and claims appear.
The record view interface includes a few notable options: Although there is no way to “collapse” the full text record, there is a hyperlink at the top of each full text record which will cause the page to jump directly to the claims section of the patent document. In addition, at the top of the full text record view, links are available to order/download a copy of the document, generate a Family Lookup report, search for the INPADOC legal status (on file in the database), or check the external EPO register. Choosing to download a patent copy navigates the user away from the full text record, and through several ordering screens, before the image can be displayed.
The “Go To” box that appears at the top of the hitlist and full text screens is a feature that allows users to jump to the middle of a large results set. In figure 3, the user is viewing record 13 of 2408; entering “1000” in this box would cause the browser to jump to record 1000 out of 2408.
The system also provides a mechanism for jumping to related keywords. When reading full text patents, the most relevant sections are likely to be those that contain the terms used in a keyword search. In MicroPatent, any keyword search terms found within the document will be hyperlinked in blue (plus a carrot, “^”). Clicking on one will lead to the next keyword hit sequentially as it appears in the text. No additional highlighting tools are available, but users may rely on the web browser “control +F” feature to determine the presence or absence of other related keywords.
After the review of a full text record is complete, the user may choose to tag the check box (at the top or bottom of the record view screen) in order to flag it as relevant. The user must then click one of the hyperlinked commands (“next,” “previous,” etc.; see figure 3) to load another record from the query results.
The service offers several different types of post-processing for search results. Instead of reviewing full-text hits individually, the user may choose to create a “report” of selected documents from the initial hitlist for high-altitude review:
- HTML Reports: HTML Reports are generated in a separate window, and consists of two different formats: “list,” which includes brief essential information (i.e. document number, publication date and title) of the selected hits, or “bibliographic,” which includes thumbnail images and abstracts for the hits. These reports can only be created for user-selected results sets, not entire hitlists.
- PDF Reports: PDF reports serve a similar function to the quick-html reports, but must be downloaded through a more involved generation process (similar to ordering patent copies). PDF reports are intended to be a little more permanent: they are more attractively formatted, contain internal bookmarks, and are intended to be saved and passed around for further review. These can either be “bibliographic,” (which includes the thumbnail image and abstract), or “bibliographic and claims.”
- Family Reports: Finally, the user can create and view a record of the entire recently generated hitlist by INPADOC family – either by representative patent or by all hits grouped into families. There are several different system options for generating family reports: some of them are like the HTML reports, and contain bibliographic summaries of patent families; some are like an in-system reviewing tool, where the reports retain active links to the patent documents. More is said about these reports in the Family Search Features section.
MicroPatent’s reviewing functionality can limit search efficiency and flexibility, as it lacks some of the desirable features of other systems. Full text records are displayed with links to family information and full patent download options, requiring the user to navigate away from the full text record to view family data or a PDF version of the document; this reduces efficiency. Some heavy users get around this undesirable one-window aspect by running MicroPatent in multiple web browser windows: one for viewing the full text record, one for viewing the PDF. (This approach echoes the versatility of record-viewing in the EAST system: see USPTO EAST)
A related disadvantage is that the system was only designed to display a single thumbnail image along with a full text record. Because there is no “image mosaic” option, like those offered by esp@cenet or PatBase, the only way to view patent drawings is to download the patent copy (or to look it up using a free service). This impacts those searchers that need to rely heavily on patent drawings, such as mechanical search professionals. Without a document-delivery subscription, viewing patent documents via MicroPatent could get costly; another major disadvantage is that frequently having to go through the patent ordering process (several screens) before accessing the patent image impacts search efficiency.
Heavy users of the service can also be affected by record-load times. Because it is a web-based service, viewing results in MicroPatent can be affected by a number of different technical factors, and can sometimes be a slow affair. To move between records in a hitlist, the user must click a command and then wait for the new record to load; depending on connection speeds and other factors, this can become a significant delay. When reviewing large hitlists, this issue can snowball into the larger problem of unexpected system-timeout; according to MicroPatent, a session with “moderate browsing” activity will last only up to four hours. (In addition, “flagged” references can be lost during an unexpected timeout… see the Flagging Results section of this article).
One surprising omission from MicroPatent’s many features is that reviewing the full text of the documents is not aided by any advanced highlighting feature, such as those available in other patent search databases (See – PatBase etc). However the fact that the search terms are highlighted in the full text is still an advantage over other search systems that do not offer this function, such as Delphion.
Additionally, although interesting, the in-system review feature of the Family Report does not live up to its potential usefulness. More is said about these reports in the Family Search Features section.
Finally, the ability to generate bibliographic HTML and PDF reports is a unique feature of MicroPatent’s functionality. This feature will be primarily useful to those wishing to quickly share interesting results from a hitlist with others; this is a summarizing tool, rather than an in-depth reviewing tool for the patent searcher.