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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.
Note: The analysis features of Thomson Innovation are described from a prior art searching perspective in this report.
Thomson Innovation is a patent search tool launched by Thomson Reuters, a global provider of information services across many business and technical disciplines, and the producer of the well known patent search file, the Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI). Thomson Reuters’ size, expertise and considerable data collections are all reflected in this search tool.
First, it should be noted that the developers of Thomson Innovation designed the tool to be used across large corporations, to serve the various information needs of different employees. The tool offers patent, business and literature collections to meet the diverse information needs of large corporations; in addition, Innovation version 2.0 (released in late 2008) offers advanced visualization tools through the Analyst subscription (essentially, they have re-introduced MicroPatent's Aureka into the tool). To reinforce the message that the tool can accommodate the needs of large corporations, version 2.0 also introduced a variety of well-conceived account management tools. These features allow managers to control default settings for various user groups, and restrict access to pay-per-use transactions. (To learn more about these account management tools, see the Other Features section.) Versions 2.1 and 2.2, both introduced in 2009, brought value-added English collections of Chinese, Japanese and Korean patent data into the tool; the machine-assisted translations of Japanese and Korean patent text, and hand translations of Chinese patent text, are unique and valuable collections. In September 2011, the Japanese-language patent collection was greatly enhanced by the addition of a 25-year backfile of full-text documents, including granted patents, applications, and utility models. To observers, it seemed that Innovation was breaking new ground, as many of these features were not common, and the new features showed that Thomson Innovation developers were remaining very sensitive to the information needs of large, diverse user groups.
Innovation offers several advantages that are currently unique to the tool, as well as features that build off the earlier advantages of its precursor systems, Thomson Reuters’ Delphion and MicroPatent PatentWeb products. The Innovation data coverage has been enhanced with machine-assisted English translations of Japanese and Korean and manual translations of Chinese patent documents, collections that are produced by The Scientific Business of Thomson Reuters editors. Additionally, as of September 2011, a 25-year backfile of searchable Japanese-language utility models, granted patents, and patent applications was added to system. The Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI) is searchable through Innovation, and DWPI data and indexing can be displayed alongside original publication data for any patent in Innovation’s collections. The US and EP full text collections in Innovation have been enhanced with legal data, including reassignments, maintenance fees, and litigation data (from LitAlert) for US patents, and opposition and licensing data for EP documents. Canadian full-text coverage was also added to the system in September 2011 (front page and claims of Canadian granted patents from 1978 to present). Innovation also offers a corporate tree feature (which was first loaded onto Delphion). And Thomson Reuters has added some of its extensive literature and business collections to the searchable data available through Innovation, including Web of Science, INSPEC, Current Contents Connect, Conference Proceedings, and the Company, Market, NewsRoom, and Research collections (under the Business Connection), available via separate subscription. (Non-patent citations that appear on patent documents may even be hyperlinked to the literature article in certain instances.)
Innovation also offers some improvements to the tools used to review patent results sets and full text documents. A filtering feature allows users to view a statistical summary of data points related to a patent results set (such as assignee or IPC class), and immediately filter the data set to show only certain results. Full patent drawings, when available, will load into the viewing pane (not in a separate PDF viewer window) for quick review, and may be enlarged for in-depth viewing. A new "Quick View" option was added in the winter of 2012, which allows users to view essential bibliographic information and larger patent drawings, with the option to mark a record and immediately move on to the next document. A highlighting panel improves on Delphion and PatentWeb by offering a built-in keyword highlighting tool for the first time. Surprisingly, the tool does not have any type of keyword-in-context (or KWIC) display option, a feature which provides a brief excerpt from the patent showing keyword hits as they appear in the text, and has been incorporated to many competing patent search tools, including PatBase.
Unfortunately, the patent PDF availability on Innovation leaves something to be desired. Innovation does not offer the benefit of document image data from the European Patent Office (EPO)'s BNS image database (the source of patent images for the free service Espacenet). This is a real disadvantage to Innovation, as the EPO’s collection is probably the most definitive in the industry at this time, with over 87 million facsimile images of patent documents in its collection as of 2011. Thomson Innovation does offer a "Special Order" feature for unavailable documents, at a premium price; however, many of these documents are actually available for free on Espacenet as single downloads.
Some analysis tools are also provided by the Innovation software. The best of these is a powerful citation mapping tool holds its own against many of those offered by competitors. A graphing/charting option also allows users to create graphical images from patent results sets, either from pre-defined system charts, or a user-defined templates. Within the Thomson Innovation Analyst Subscription, the text clustering feature allows users to perform linguistic analysis on large data sets, while the powerful ThemeScape tool can be used to visualize a topographic map of large data sets arranged by subject matter.
Although the value of interface features can sometimes vary greatly from user to user, depending on personal preference or different user goals, the one misstep in Innovation’s design seems to be in the overly rigid search history management tools. Innovation’s Saved Work area has been designed to treat saved results sets, search histories, alerts and saved graphs/citation maps as “objects” that may be placed into personal or public folders, and organized into groups. Additional queries can be appended to saved histories, but the process takes multiple steps and can only be done through the Saved Work Interface. It would be more ideal if users could save any individual query onto any chosen saved search history in a quick and flexible way.
In sum, although Innovation offers unique data collections which are a clear advantage to any searcher, whether the search interface design is a clear boost to search efficiency depends on the workflow needs of each individual user. Because of Thomson Reuters’ strong position in the industry, further developments to the tool are expected and likely to occur.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "What's New in Thomson Innovation." Thomson Innovation website, http://info.thomsoninnovation.com/whatsnew. Accessed August 29, 2012.
- ↑ "Core Patent Collections." Thomson Innovation website, http://www.thomsoninnovation.com/tip-innovation/support/help/collections_patent.htm#core. Accessed August 29, 2012.
- ↑ "Scientific Literature Collections on Thomson Innovation." Thomson Innovation website, http://www.thomsoninnovation.com/tip-innovation/support/help/collections_literature.htm. Accessed August 30, 2012.
- ↑ "Business Collection Coverage Summary." Thomson Innovation website, http://www.thomsoninnovation.com/tip-innovation/support/help/collections_business.htm. Accessed August 30, 2012.
- ↑ Figueroa, Jennifer and Laura Gaze. "Thomson Innovation Streamlines Workflow and Enables Faster IP Decision Making with New Intuitive User Interface." Thomson Reuters website, http://thomsonreuters.com/content/press_room/science/550187. Accessed April 9, 2012.
- ↑ Power Point Presentation. Flatscher, Rony. "The Case of the European Patent Office: Characterizing the Programming Concepts that Allow 'Non-Programmers' to Successfully Write Programs to Refine Patent Document Queries." Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien Vienna University of Economics and Business, http://wi.wu.ac.at:8002/rgf/tmp/201102wissijapan/RGF_EPO_ooRexx-201102-v2.pdf. Accessed August 30, 2012.