Report:QPAT/Import, Export, and Download/Import Functions
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|As of January 1, 2013, both QPAT and PatentExaminer have been discontinued, and they have been replaced by the Orbit.com portal.|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 PDS document ordering service, discussed in Downloads, offers an import screen which allows users to upload document numbers for bulk download. However, in past versions of QPAT through version 5, there was no way to import an outside list of document numbers for searching/analysis in QPAT or Patent Examiner.
However, version 6 of QPAT (released September 2007) included an upload feature for document numbers, called the Patent Number Wizard. Available from the Patent Search form, this feature allows users to enter up to 100 document numbers at once to be searched on and retrieved as a hit list. Document numbers can be entered into the browser window in multiple standard formats: numbers with spaces and other common punctuation used in patent numbers will be accepted. For example, both EP 089382 and EP089382 will be accepted, as will US 6,666,666 and US6666666. In addition, version 6.8 of the tool, released in February 2009, seems to have made the system accommodating to slashes, e.g. US2007/0072737 can now be recognized. Once uploaded, the numbers are placed into the search form and additional search parameters may be added to the query before the results are calculated.
A January 2008 enhancement to this tool added two additional features: first, the update improved its ability to recognize various document formats; second, the tool can now identify and extract patent document numbers which appear in a block of text. For example, entering the paragraph above into the upload window, shown in the figure below…
…will be interpreted by the program, and potential document numbers will be selected for user scrutiny and approval. As seen in the figure below, this system sometimes incorrectly identifies document numbers, or only partially identifies them.
The past omission of an uploading feature was a disadvantage for the system, as there are any number of reasons why patent searchers would want to be able to upload an outside list of documents into a search engine. Just one example might be that a client has provided a long list of known prior art, and the searcher wants to view the documents for background information. Alternatively, a user could have found a set of documents using a separate search engine, and wishes to combine them with a set of QPAT results to export the combined data set for further analysis. Thus, lack of an import feature was a major blow to the system’s utility.
The new number upload feature introduced by QPAT version 6 is limited in that it only allows up to 100 uploaded documents, a low number which needs to be increased if QPAT is to catch up to its competitors in this regard. However, a major advantage to the upload window is that it can now support alternative number formats, such as those including spaces and punctuation: for example, US 5,555,555 or US5555555 are both accepted by the system, increasing efficiency. Punctuation can still sometimes trip up the document-identifying feature of the wizard, however, as seen in the figure above.
The new upload feature also offers another interesting side-benefit: in contrast to the design of some other systems, additional search parameters can easily be applied in the search form before the search is run. For example, a user might choose to upload a set of 100 documents, and add the inventor name “Smith” to the search form, to find only those out of the 100 that list “Smith” as the inventor. The QPAT v6 upload feature therefore provides a way to perform a mini-search within the 100 uploaded numbers.
Although this could be a useful feature to some, it’s not a huge advantage: most other search systems can support this type of search on a mini-set of documents, for example, via combining search queries, or saved results sets, using Boolean operators. In fact, QPAT’s own complementary Patent Examiner system already offered a way to search within a saved document set. Thus, QPAT’s import feature, with its 100 document limit, is still lacking in comparison to other upload features.