Report:PatBase/Viewing Results/Viewing Patent Drawings
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Viewing Patent Drawings
Depending on which display format is chosen, a representative image from the master patent in the family record is usually loaded with the other bibliographic and family information on the results page. This image is usually the same image that was selected by the examiner for display on the front page of the patent. According to a recent PatBase update from July 2011, the representative images are chosen to match the master patent number of the family record, and the images are watermarked with the publication they come from. See the screenshot below for an example of a watermarked representative image.
These representative images are sometimes different from the representative images shown on Espacenet. While Espacenet tends to show the drawing published on the patent first page, PatBase often shows the entire first full drawing from the patent. (For example, contrast the two representative images chosen by each system for published application US2003224684). This suggests that the EPO does not provide the same source data to PatBase for the front-page images it shows; perhaps PatBase automatically pulls in the first drawing page for each patent rather than relying on front page images as representatives.
Clicking on a representative image will load a mosaic of images scanned from one of the family members (typically, but not necessarily, the master patent), of the very same format and type as those available from the free online patent search service Espacenet. An image mosaic is a collection of patent drawings that have been reduced in size until about six of them fit on a single page. Viewing document images via a mosaic is a fast way to skim dozens of drawings quickly, to get a general idea of the invention without having to click through drawings page-by-page. If a user sees something interesting in a mosaic, they can use the zoom feature in the Adobe viewer to take a closer look, or they can return to the main window and open up the document facsimile image (also via Espacenet or PatBase's PatentOrder service) for closer review. Most EP, US, and PCT documents are available via the PatentOrder archive, and if a document is not available there, the system will reach out to other free resources (like Espacenet) to retrieve the PDF version of the publication and give the user a page-by-page view. According to a PatBase Representative, PatentOrder subscribers can also download the complete PDF. Some display formats will also load the Espacenet drawing mosaics directly into the hit list, such as the Image Display format and the Custom Display format (if the user selects to display the "Image" field).
PatBase relies on the Espacenet system to allow their users to access drawing mosaics. However, sometimes the relationship between these two systems can produce glitches: for example, according to the PatBase help desk, if Espacenet does not display a representative image for a given patent document on its site, then PatBase cannot successfully provide a link to the drawing mosaic for that patent family. If certain data appears to be missing, users are recommended to check the Espacenet website for the availability of drawings mosaics and other data about a patent family.
Depending on the nature and subject matter of the search, it is often desirable to view document images while reading the patent full text. This is an essential feature for mechanical searches: viewing the drawings while referring to the (often very complex) drawing descriptions is a must to help the searcher visualize what is being described in the document. In 2008, PatBase was updated to allow users to open multiple browser windows. A November 2010 update further improved this feature, so that:
Pop-up windows such as Full-Text and Citations synchronize across a single data set when using keyboard shortcuts. As you analyze data within one window, the corresponding data in other windows automatically shifts to display the active record. You must enable 'allow multiple pop-ups' in your user settings. In addition to this, 'Pinning' of popups enables you to fix the position and size of the window as required.
The PatBase Manual further elaborates on how to use the pinning feature:
For some popup windows you will see a pin icon (insert icon) in the top right corner of the window. This allows you to fix the size and position of the window within the screen so that if you close the window, but then open it again later, the window will return to the last size and position.
PatBase users can view the drawings mosaic, and read the full patent text, by toggling between two browser windows.
In a 2008 update, images that appear within the text of the patent specification, such as chemical structure drawings or scientific formulae, have begun to be included for EP and JP full text records. These embedded images appear in-line with the patent text. These images greatly enhance the patent searching in those collections; previously, to view an embedded image, searchers would be required to download the original patent copy, as embedded images do not appear in drawing mosaics.
The Chemicalize tool also allows users to view chemical structure drawings for chemicals mentioned in the document text. See the Viewing Latin Text Records section for more information on this feature.
By virtue of including the image of the representative drawing, the image mosaic for the master patent, embedded images, the Chemicalize visualization tool, and the links to PDF document images for each family member, PatBase is one of the most flexible search services when it comes to image searching. Presenting a representative image for each family record, and including embedded images, means that the user does not have to go through any extra actions to get an idea of the patent content, which promotes efficiency. Hosting the mosaic image echos the versatility of this feature as provided on Espacenet (albeit only for the master patent in the record), and linking to free PDF images from patent authorities incorporates the cost-effectiveness of searching on one of these public domain sources.
Flexible image searching means the most for users who intend to perform mechanical searches, as image viewing is a necessary part of their search methodology. Now that PatBase has full-text US patent coverage from March 7, 1950 to present, mechanical searchers will no longer need to supplement their searches using a provider with better pre-1971 US data.
The 2008 update that allows users to open multiple windows will be a great boon to the efficiency of mechanical device searching in PatBase. Users can now view the patent drawings and read the patent full text by toggling between two browser windows. The "pinning" option and synchronous viewing feature for pop-up windows adds additional utility to this feature, although the synchronous browsing and pinning options don't seem to be available for pop-up mosaic windows. Unfortunately, there is also still no interface that allows these two items to be opened side-by-side within the same window, as some other systems display them.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "PatBase user news." PatBase website (restricted), http://www.patbase.com/wnewinfo.asp?i=173. Accessed December 5, 2011.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Email correspondence with PatBase representative. Received December 9, 2011.
- ↑ "PatBase Manual." PatBase website (restricted), http://www.patbase.com/Manual.pdf . Accessed December 5, 2011.