Patent office unveils patent search platform

The Web tool allows users to see how many patents a company owns or what areas of technology are booming.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office debuted a new tool that makes it easier for the public to explore the agency’s patents archive.

In a post on its news blog Thursday, the Commerce Department announced the launch of PatentsView, which lets users browse 40 years of patent data by title, name of inventor and a host of other attributes. The tool also can illustrate search results using charts and maps.

“Until now, answering these questions would require multiple resources and countless patent searches,” according to Commerce’s blog. “One could easily spend hours or even days of tireless research to get this information — if at all. With PatentsView this information is available at your fingertips.”

PatentsView is part of an agencywide push to open up data, according to the post.


This spring, the office released a report detailing its efforts in open data. Thomas Beach, senior adviser in the patent office’s Office of the Undersecretary and Director, told FedScoop at the time that he hoped the agency could become an “API factory,” giving tech-savvy users easier ways to access its data troves. Though, he said the patent office faces some obstacles: For example, changing the wording on a patent to make it more searchable could be problematic because it could change its scope.

The PatentsView project began in 2012 through a collaboration between the patent office, the Agriculture Department, the Center for the Science of Science and Innovation Policy, and the University of California at Berkeley. According to a press release, developers plan to continue to make improvements on the tool.

Indeed, next week, the agency is holding a public workshop where teams of experts will present new algorithms for differentiating inventors who have the same name. The agency will integrate the best algorithm into PatentsView.

“While PatentsView already uses an algorithm to disambiguate inventors, opportunities for improvements are always emerging as technology evolves,” according to the post.

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