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|As of January 1, 2013, both QPAT and PatentExaminer have been discontinued, and they have been replaced by the Orbit.com portal.|
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.
Questel-Orbit is named after the merger of two parent companies, the French company Questel and the US company Orbit, in 1994. The Orbit portion of Questel-Orbit is a patent information provider with a long history: the Orbit portion of Questel-Orbit was developed for the National Library of Medicine, and a commercial version became available to the public as early as 1972. An overview of the merger and subsequent combining of the Questel and Orbit systems in 2000 was given by Nancy Lambert in a February 2000 article for Searcher magazine.
QPAT itself was introduced in 1996 as an Internet-based US full text search engine designed for end-users, as a totally separate product from the original Questel or Orbit systems (which were designed for use by information professionals comfortable with their complex command line environments).
Although Questel-Orbit continues to release new versions of the QPAT system, the enhancements released in 2007 represent small improvements to functionality, rather than significant data enhancements. Without the resources of its massive competitor, Thomson Reuters (owner of comparable search systems Delphion, MicroPatent, and Thomson Innovation), Questel-Orbit may not be well positioned to keep up with new innovations. It’s also worth noting that QPAT lacks the unique data structure and other innovative features of another comparable system, relative newcomer PatBase. As patent search engines suitable for both professionals and end-users multiply, QPAT may be forced to evolve to capture a significant share of the market.
In December of 2007, it was announced that the investment firm SG Capital Europe took over Questel in a leveraged buyout operation (LBO). At this time the company also announced that 80% of Questel employees remained shareholders. This operation may spur the company to expand its business and stay interested in new opportunities for development.
- ↑ Lambert, Nancy. “Orbit and Questel-Orbit: Farewell and Hail.” Searcher, Vol.8, No.2. February 2000.