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|As of January 1, 2013, both QPAT and PatentExaminer have been discontinued, and they have been replaced by the Orbit.com portal.|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. Further subjective information is presented in clearly labeled "Editor's Notes" throughout the report.
A spin-off of Questel-Orbit’s command environment, QWeb, QPAT is a web-based search tool that accesses Questel’s full text patent files, as well as its unique FamPat family and bibliographic database. Authorized subscribers to Questel's IP Portal can access QPAT alongside a "lite" version of the product, QPAT Xpress. In addition, QPAT subscribers can access QPAT Xpress at no additional charge.
FamPat families are built on an exclusive algorithm that creates small, highly related families; the database dynamically responds to new publications, to re-build families when new priority data comes to light. The QPAT search service offers full text document searching with the added benefits of FamPat, which includes “Key Content” extracted from full text documents via Lingway linguistic analysis.
QPAT is described as an “end user” service; however, it holds its own with other web-based professional search engines. It supports both search form and command line interfaces for query construction, and includes advanced highlighting and flagging features for users who intend to perform comprehensive, in-depth search projects. Bulk patent downloading is also supported, and users can even save and access downloaded patents via their online “portfolio.” These strengths are counterbalanced by some artificial limitations imposed by the database structure, and weaker search history saving options as compared with other engines in its class.
QPAT features a unique multi-lingual search function. QPAT is possibly the first among its competitors to offer a search form that automatically generates keywords in other languages to expand the search to foreign collections.
In QPAT, saved work files can only be viewed using Patent Examiner (separate subscription required). The Patent Examiner tool focuses on in-depth reading of patent documents via a side-by-side display of both electronic patent text, and patent facsimile images. In addition, the system supports workfile sharing, providing a gateway for users to review, annotate, and rank patent documents alongside colleagues. A 2008 addition added the Questel Analysis Module to the tools available through Patent Examiner. This additional feature allows users to create interactive graphs using a saved results set.
Non-spreadsheet exports from QPAT include PDF, TXT, and RTF (Rich text format) output options. The PDF and RTF choices include active links for users to obtain the document image, drawing mosaic, access to the system's citation graph feature, and legal status registers. These features can be accessed even by users who do not have a QPat username and password. This access adds value that searchers may pass on to the recipients of the search results, improving reporting.
One fact that might come as a surprise to QPAT users is that the full text files, whether they are US, EP, or PCT, do not contain any updated classification data. The full text records in these files only contain classification data at time of issue. To search current classification information, users must search in the FamPat file, which does not contain the records’ full text.
A final note about QPAT is that updates to the system are released quite often. In December of 2007, parent company Questel was purchased by European investor Société Générale Capital Europe (SGCE), and many improvements have been made to the system since that time. The most significant additions are: an extension of database content to the US backfile, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria full text files; the addition of a multi-lingual search tool that translates keyword searches into English, German and/or French; and the addition of an analysis module (in cooperation with partner company Intellixir) that produces interactive statistical analysis graphs and interactive patent family displays.