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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.
PatBase Express is a pared-down version of PatBase, targeted to novice patent searchers such as engineers or R & D departments. Produced by a collaboration between Minesoft Ltd. and RWS Group, the PatBase family is a newcomer to the patent search scene, and PatBase was first introduced in 2003.The search forms are simplified so a user can easily start searching without having to learn the various commands and operators needed to perform searching, as one does with the command line in PatBase. However all data available to PatBase is also available to PatBase Express.
PatBase Express provides full text searching for BE, BR, CA, CH, CN, DE, DK, EP, ES, FI, FR, GB, IN, JP, KR, SE, TH, TW, US, and WO collections. The JP and KR collections were added in 2007 and 2008 in an attempt to introduce non-Latin language full text into the database, and a non-Latin text search form was added to PatBase Express in March 2011 that allows users to utilize non-Latin languages to search through Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Thai full text. The service provides representative drawing images and links to original document PDFs via the Espacenet collection, and also provides links to Espacenet patent drawing mosaics. It has also loaded the worldwide INPADOC database for bibliographic, family, and legal status data, produced by the European Patent Office. The incorporation of free national sources of patent and legal status data wherever possible is one of the notable features of the system.
The system is web-based, and provides five separate search forms to accommodate the novice searcher. Viewing full-text is simple and easy to navigate through. Highlighting is available when using keywords to search. A machine translation feature is also available to translate documents to and from a large number of supported languages, and a Chemicalize tool allows users to view chemical structures identified in the full text of individual patent documents. In addition, the system offers a simplified method, in comparison to regular PatBase, for saving and exporting results, which is convenient when time is at a premium. Finally, the Visual Explorer tool available in PatBase is now also available also available in PatBase Express, so users can visually identify common themes in a set of search results.
Alternatively, users can opt to select the PatBase Express USA interface, which limits searching to the US data in single records (with underlying family data still present). In addition to all of the usual search syntax and field options, searching by US serial number is also enabled. Users only interested in US data may find this searching experience more analogous to using Google Patents or other US focused search systems.
Like PatBase, PatBase Express organizes and displays its data by family unit, as opposed to many full-text search systems which organize documents into separate country files. In PatBase Express, all records are linked inextricably to what is essentially their INPADOC family (with a few modifications). For each family, PatBase Express has chosen a “master patent” and a representative English abstract or machine translation when possible. In combining its full text records with its bibliographic data records to create one integrated database, PatBase Express reverses the normal patent search process: instead of finding a single record of interest and then choosing to investigate the patent family, users find an entire family record with at least one family member that has fit their search criteria.
Search accuracy in PatBase and PatBase Express (and the resulting efficiency rating) has become somewhat of a controversial topic, with detractors saying they don’t trust search accuracy due to the increase of data “noise” and false drops caused by aggregating family data. Overall, displaying records as a family should increase efficiency in theory: this shrinks results sets by removing duplicate family members. However, the organization of records into aggregated data fields can increase the number of tangential hits, leaving reviewers guessing as to why they were retrieved. A possible solution to this issue, field qualifiers that allow users to restrict searching to the same publications within families, was added to the PatBase system in October 2011, but these field qualifiers aren't available in PatBase Express. One further searching disadvantage, especially for the chemical/biochemical searcher, is that PatBase does not allow left truncation.
Because the emphasis is on novice users, many of the features available in PatBase are either removed or functionality is reduced in PatBase Express. For example, some operators and field qualifiers are not functional, advanced highlighting is not available, all of the analysis tools (except for the Snapshot option and Visual Explorer tool) are removed, search strings can only be saved temporarily, search histories cannot be saved, and results may only be saved for a limited time to one folder. That being said, the functionality PatBase Express retains is on par with other simple search tools such as Google Patents and Patent Lens.
Overall, PatBase Express is a simple-to-use patent search system that is best used to perform cursory searching in an efficient manner. Since the majority of users will have access to PatBase Express via their corporate subscription to PatBase, PatBase Express is a perfect tool for a new user to get acquainted with patent searching before moving to a more comprehensive search tool such as PatBase.
- ↑ "Patbase Full text Coverage at Update 2012 Week 04.” PatBase website, http://www.patbase.com/wnewinfo.asp?i=155&cc=fulltext. Accessed February 1, 2012.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "PatBase user news." PatBase website, http://www.patbase.com/wnewinfo.asp?i=173. Accessed February 1, 2012.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "What’s New in PatBase Express: March 2011.” PatBase website, https://www.patbase.com/express/pbe201103.pdf. Accessed February 1, 2012.