Report:Thomson Innovation/Viewing Results/Family Search Features
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Family Search Features
A patent family is a set of inter-related patent documents usually referring to the same invention. Through the use of DWPI and INPADOC data available in Thomson Innovation, the user has access to functionality such as "Collapse by Family" and "Family Lookup" tools.
Family members are not linked via their shared family status in Innovation. In other words, full text documents can be searched and retrieved as independent records, without taking family relationship into account. However, if family data for a record is desired, it can be called up using Innovation’s access to the DWPI and INPADOC databases. In addition, the "Collapse by Family" feature in Thomson Innovation can group family members together, so that only one record per family will be reviewed.
This represents a fundamental difference between the way families are handled in Innovation versus other systems such as PatBase and Orbit.com. In Innovation, documents already in the database can be ‘collapsed’ into families, and it is possible to call up a list of related family members; however, family members are not used to create aggregated patent family records, the way that they are in more ‘family-centric’ systems such as PatBase and Orbit.com.
The distinction between the structure of an INPADOC patent family and that of a DWPI patent family is important for Thomson Innovation users to understand. In an INPADOC family, documents are linked to a family even when they have only one priority in common. Further iterative searches are conducted for patents with priorities similar to those of any family member of the initially built family. Thus, the family members do not necessarily have a single priority in common with the one you searched for initially. For example: Document 1 has priority ABC, Document 2 has priority ABC and DEF, and Document 3 has priority DEF. All three would be included in the same INPADOC family.
By contrast, a DWPI family includes all patent documents that share the exact same set of priority application numbers as the "basic" or first published patent loaded into the DWPI file. For example: Document 1 has priority ABC, Document 2 has priority ABC and DEF, and Document 3 also has priority to ABC. Only Documents 1 and 3 would be considered “equivalent” and be grouped into the same DWPI family. See the patent families article for a more detailed look at patent families.
INPADOC families tend to include a broader, larger set of family members than do DWPI families. Because of this, many searchers feel that a DWPI family is more representative of a single invention, whereas an INPADOC family may count relatively unrelated inventions amongst its members.
The following table from the Thomson Innovation help file summarizes options for collapsing/viewing records by family through the system:
Options for Collapsing/Viewing by Family (Summary)
|Tool||Scope||Accessed or Set via|
|Only impacts records found by the query that generated the result set
Can collapse by:
|Result set Display and Sort Options panel
Result Set Preferences
|Publication Number Specialized Search...
|Finds family members for searched publication numbers
Presents result set in expanded mode but it can be collapsed
|Publication Number Search form
Search Preferences (Patent)
Retrieve DWPI Family Members/
|Retrieves family members for all records in the result set
Will retrieve records that were not explicitly found by your query
Tool does not appear on result sets from Family Lookup Specialized Search
Can retrieve one (not both):
|Primary menu bar on a result set
Result Set Preferences
DWPI Family Data
Thomson Innovation accesses DWPI patent family information with identification of non-conventional equivalents. Patent families allow the user to see all patents related to the same invention. For a given invention, DWPI gathers patent documents from over 44 patent issuing authorities and then provides this information in a concise "Patent Family Table" for that invention. The DWPI patent family also identifies the non-conventional equivalents that occur when a patent is filed outside of the priority deadline. Because of this, the searcher will see all the patents related to the same invention, not just those patents with the same priority date.
Family Data in Record View
As mentioned above in the Record View section, both INPADOC and DWPI family data is available when viewing a document in Record View.
Collapse by Family
One of the most prominent family searching feature in Innovation is the ability to collapse a result set by DWPI family or by INPADOC family, or choose not to collapse results by family at all. This option can be set under ‘Result Set Preferences’. See more about this in the Preferences section of this article.
Retrieve DWPI/INPADOC Family Members
The option to "Retrieve INPADOC Family" or "Retrieve DWPI Family" (depending on which "display family member tool" is selected under "Result Set Preferences") allows users to retrieve family members for all records in the result set. This tool will retrieve records that were not explicitly found by your query, whereas the "Collapse by Family" option will only impact records found by the query that generated the result set (see table above). This option is displayed above the result set in the hit list, in the top section of the Patent Result Set Toolbar.
Users should be aware that the "Retrieve DWPI/INPADOC Family Members" option may pull new records into the result set, whereas the "Collapse by Family" option will only impact records in the current result set.
When performing a publication number search, Innovation offers a "Family Lookup" option. To search for patent families, the user would select the Family Lookup radio button within the specialized search panel, then select either INPADOC or DWPI as the desired family structure. The result set will include all family members for the searched publication numbers.
Users familiar with MicroPatent PatentWeb may be familiar with the Family Lookup feature in that system. One big improvement in Innovation, however, is the addition of DWPI family data to Thomson Innovation's family search features.
Family Change Alerts
This option allows the user "watch records" and be notified whenever new members are added to the family a particular record belongs to. This is discussed further in the Alerts section below.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Collapsing/Viewing By Family." Thomson Innovation website, http://www.thomsoninnovation.com/tip-innovation/support/help/collapse.htm. Accessed September 13, 2012.