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Deep into the digital age, intellectual property — or IP — is a hot commodity. The explosion of the World Wide Web has been a major contributing force to this information gold rush. But where to mine for that IP nugget? The answer depends on what it is that you’re looking for. This article takes a look at what, to my mind, is new in the Big Five IP resources — Dialog, Lexis-Nexis, Micropatent, IBM, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Other sources exist — such as Questel-Orbit, AvantIQ, and STN — but I will not go into those specialized databases. Nor will I outline the many Web sites that provide links to IP resources. At the conclusion of this article, however, I have listed URLs for those wishing to explore on their own. Information on how to set up e-mail delivery of good IP news sources is also listed. ENTER THE ELECTRONIC AGE For those of you who have not noticed, IP sources have gone electronic. Years ago (yes, I’m that old), you had to send someone over the river and through Crystal City to that venerable institution — the PTO — in order to conduct patent or trademark research and to obtain copies of patents and trademarks. For copyright information, the Library of Congress (LOC) was where you would spend the day. Now, you still have to go through the bureaucratic rigamarole at the PTO or the LOC to get an official, “certified” copy of a patent (complete with ribbon), trademark, or copyright registration, but today’s IP researcher has many options. In the Big Five, you have excellent choices for comprehensive searching, family data, legal status, secondary sources, document delivery, and quick and dirty searching. DIALOG At 28 years old, Dialog ( www.dialog.com) is the grandparent of them all, and, is probably the most comprehensive, one-stop searching place to go for IP information. Residing on Dialog are over three dozen sources for information on patents and trademarks worldwide and U.S. copyright registrations. If you aren’t familiar with what is on Dialog, take a look at the list of blue sheets for IP resources. It is very impressive. What’s new on Dialog is that in June of this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization/Patent Cooperation Treaty (WINO/PUT) fullest patents were added to Dialog’s cache of IP information. Interestingly, Micropatent produces this database. As for prior art searching, Dialog has an equally vast array of industry publications to cull for relevant technology. The Web blue sheets are easily searched by publication name. If you have a subscription to Dialog, you can access the databases at www.dialogweb.com. Pay-as-you-go pricing is also available. For those intimidated by Dialog’s peculiar command language, this form-based tool is a godsend. For those who prefer the command language, that option is available. LEXIS-NEXIS At just about 26 years old, Lexis-Nexis ( www.lexis.com) has become one of the premier online legal resources. Where Dialog provides a vast array of international information, Lexis focuses on in-depth U.S. resources, particularly secondary sources. The usual suspects are there — U.S. patents, European patents, and Japanese abstracts — but what makes Lexis such a great tool is the dedication to the legal aspects. For instance, U.S. patent records are updated by Lexis to reflect changes in legal status. If there is a reassignment of rights to a patent, that is added to the record. As with Dialog, Lexis is now Web-based. The “word on the street” is that Lexis is concentrating all of its research and development on the Web version and will not be updating the proprietary software. A new feature of Lexis on the Web is the Patent Practice Page. The company has been tinkering around with practice pages since Lexis went Webby (does anyone else remember the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Page?), and this version appears to be workable. All patents and patent resources are accessible via the page, including news, statutes and regulations, patent ordering, law reviews, and secondary sources. Lexis has conveniently added hypertext links within the primary and secondary materials so that they are integrated. Be warned, however, that a click on that link will cost you. Another drawback to the Lexis Web is that it is still not possible to print patents in a dual-column format. “We’re working on that” is the response when asking when this will be resolved. That has been the response, however, since the lexis.com site was rolled out so it doesn’t appear that this will change in the near future. They are, however, looking into providing a PDF version for printing. In September, a Trademark & Copyright Practice Page was added. Similar to the patent page, it provides links to all of Lexis’ trademark and copyright resources. Since Lexis’ parent organization is a large scientific publisher, it would make sense that prior art searching would be a natural on Lexis. Not so. There are limited technology resources, but, as with the dual-column printing, the company is working on it. MICROPATENT Started just over 11 years ago, Micropatent ( www.micropat.com) has carved itself a niche as the premier document delivery tool for IP. Recently, Micropatent’s parent organization, Information Holdings, Inc. (IHI), has gobbled up several of the smaller IP companies. These include Optipat, Faxpat, and Corporate Intelligence (CI). What this means is that Micropatent has the most comprehensive electronic U.S. patents database in the country. Not even the PTO comes close. Not only does it have the patents and trademarks, but you can also order the file histories. Copies of patents and trademarks are available via download, e-mail, fax, or snail mail. The really great thing about Micropatent is the date range of its document collection — back to roughly 1790. Now, considering that the first patent was issued in 1830, that is very impressive. And what is even more impressive is that from 1836 forward, these documents are fully searchable. To date, CI is still a separate system, so you need to subscribe to CI ( www.1790.com). The staff at Micropatent, however, is working diligently on importing all of CI into micropat.com so that it will truly be one-stop shopping for IP document delivery. It took two years to complete, but Micropatent, via Trademark.com ( www.trademark.com), now has common law data, state data, and federal data available for searching. Later this year, Micropatent is hoping to provide international data as well. The latest in Micropatent-land is in trademarks, patent family data, and licensing. Until Micropatent added this patent family information, Dialog’s File 345 (Inpadoc) and File 350 (World Patent Index) were the places to find this information. It’s good to have a new alternative. The last new feature from Micropatent is perhaps not as important to researchers, but worth knowing about nonetheless. Via www.corporateintelligence.com, patents available for licensing will be listed. The idea is to provide a complete set of tools and resources to connect licensees and licensors of patent rights. Real-time and archival news, related research features, various listing services, and links to the IP databases such as Micropat, Master Data Center, Optipat, and Faxpat are also available. IBM A relatively new kid on the block, the IBM site is now known as the Delphion Intellectual Property Network (IPN), at www.delphion.com(although I’m sure everyone will still refer to it as “the IBM web site”). This is a good place to start if you have a quick and dirty search to do. The available patent texts only go back to 1971 and images to 1974. It’s pay-as-you-go, so it is a good tool for occasional users. What’s new on the site, however, is pretty exciting. It’s a feature called PatentLabII. This analytical tool will take a set of patents specified by the searcher and create graphs, tables, and other types of reports to provide a visual tool for discerning relationships between patents. For occasional users, document downloads and file history orders are possible via the IPN site. For organizational needs, the IPN now offers an IP Server for Lotus Domino. This is basically a mini-database of patents chosen by an organization. The benefit is that the images do not reside on the organization’s server, but at the same time, access to the documents is available at LAN speed. PTO Now you might think that the best place to go for IP information is straight to the source — the PTO ( www.uspto.gov). For quick and dirty searches, you would be correct. Searching by different fields of the patent or trademark record is available and is easy. The problem, however, comes when trying to download or print a copy of the record. Due to the “locked down” nature of the computer system where I work, it is not possible to download the TIFF plug-in needed to view the images. An interesting new feature (and one that I just stumbled across accidentally) is the PAIR system ( pto-ebc.uspto.gov/registration_pair.html). If your organization is involved in patent prosecution, this can be a valuable tool. PAIR stands for “Patent Application Information Retrieval.” Once registered, you can check on the status of patent applications via the Web. It is a long, tedious process, however, to get registered (I am in the throes of it right now), but I am confident that it will be a worthwhile effort in the end. CONCLUSION The updates and new features discussed above are not meant to be comprehensive. However, they are, in my opinion, what is new and useful in the ever-increasing world of IP information. Copyrights are an increasingly important area, but, as far as I know, there are not any really good new and exciting sources of information for them. So for any copyright gurus, please take no offense at the omission of coverage. As promised, below are some URLs worth checking into and some e-mail news sources worth subscribing to — with a little editorial license. As an IP researcher, new sources and tools are always of interest to me and any news of them is greatly appreciated. One final bit of advice: know what sources are out there, but find one that you like and get to know it really well. All of the vendors mentioned here (with perhaps the exception of the PTO) are very willing to listen to comments on how to improve their services. The more you get to know a source, the more relevant your critical input will be, and the more likely the vendor will be to incorporate your suggestions. This will ultimately make your work in IP research more effective. MEGA SITE URLS Franklin Pierce Law Center FindLaw ADDITIONAL PATENT SOURCE URLS Patent Caf�provides links to various patent offices around the world. DigiPatis agreat source for file histories and file wrappers Questel-Orbithas trademark information. PATENTS, TRADEMARKS, SCI-TECH, AND DOMAIN NAMES AvantIQhas international trademark information. U.S. Copyright Office IP AND OTHER NEWS VIA E-MAIL BNA’s Internet Law News Bytes in Briefhas monthly news on technology-related legal issues. Alyson Danowski is librarian at Collier Shannon & Scott in Washington, D.C.

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