Jane List enjoys the detective work that is part of her role as an information professional at The Technology Partnership. TTP is a small research and development company where Jane is the only information professional; she is frequently presented with a detective's challenges and responds with solutions.
“We don’t have a physical ‘information centre’ at TTP,” said Jane. “We rely on proprietary online databases and other web-based resources to find the information we need . We are a Knowledge-based business, so an understanding of the science, technology, commercial and intellectual property issues underpinning the technology solutions we develop for ourselves and our clients is vital to our success. It’s my job to keep everyone up-to-date with the resources and search tools available.”
The team at TTP use the ‘Knowledge Library’ on their intranet to share sources for information on patents, industry, scientific, regulatory and standards information. End users are invited to training sessions on specific search tools, and make use of Alerts to monitor competitor patents on World Patent Index. TTP are always searching for new tools and are currently considering Aureka for their patent analysis of industries.
“The patent information side of my role at TTP has grown in importance both for TTP and our clients who are increasingly aware of IP issues,” said Jane. “TTP has strong R&D capabilities and undertakes broad, forward-looking research projects for clients, which often lead to next-generation products.”
In the 10 years Jane has been with TTP, her role has changed from providing raw information for analysis by others to one of analyzing, interpreting and reporting of information herself, particularly in the field of IP. The tools she uses have also evolved. “The availability of patent legal status and file history information available online through PAIR and epoline on the day of publication is a major improvement and rudimentary alerts are available on specific patents through epoline which facilitates the monitoring of competitor patents.”
Jane has also developed her own best practices and theories: “I have created in-house databases on Microsoft ® Access and FileMaker for monitoring competitor patents, prior art and TTP’s CDAs. Last year I presented a paper at the Annual PIUG meeting on the particular characteristics of searching mechanical and engineering patents and how these could be improved by searching drawings.”
Jane hopes to see such search capabilities available in the near future. But further up on her wish list are improved software tools for viewing and comparing drawings of retrieved patents. Searchable drawings would also make design and utility model databases of practical benefit. “Design and Utility models are widely used to protect inventions in mechanical and engineering fields for the emerging economies of the Far East,” said Jane.
“ Google patents has a beneficial view of retrieved patents showing claims and drawings and searching of old US patents not available elsewhere and we can be sure our end-users will be searching it. I expect to see more old patent collections available electronically, and the full-text made searchable.”
Jane List is an information professional at The Technology Partnership. TTP which was founded in 1987 is based near Cambridge in the UK, and is Europe’s leading independent technology development and IP licensing company. TTP employs around 300 people with backgrounds in the physical sciences and engineering and with business expertise; most have PhDs.
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