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Landscape and State of the Art Searches


What can PAS do for me?


Imagine ordering a landscape search, and being confident that an expert in the technology will complete it, knowing the cost, scope, and search methodology beforehand, having long term and continuing access to the report and its references through a secure online database cross-referenced to each document, and sharing this access with anyone you chose. Imagine also search reports designed for quick intelligibility, highlighting the relevant documents with short comments, without unnecessary boilerplate information or marginally relevant documents, but including all the information you need to know how the report fits into your decision making process and your informational needs going forward.


The purpose of this project is to provide a technical-legal presentation of the IP workspace:

(1) occupied by others
(2) occupied by your firm (in comparison to others); and
(3) contested areas
(4) available for capture.

This information will enable your firm to make informed and incisive business decisions regarding opportunities to pursue the a certain technology area.


To do that PAS will provide a claims-oriented excursion into the information available in documents to build a set of guides and indicators that help inform the presentation. These guides will focus on the parties (facial assignees, & inventors) and the technologies. PAS will use a series of database filters to allow drill down into the findings to see the various relationships.


To accomplish the selection of the documents a highly trained and highly experienced individual professional will make primary decisions on documents to include and the categorization of these documents into a matrix of interest. PAS will use a field expert which is believed to be vital to conduct an accurate landscape search. Unlike an algorithm that mindlessly tallies documents and properties with pre-conceived weights the patent specialist will provide selection judgments based on context.


The end product will be a summary of areas of technology that are coordinated to the parties and winnowed down to a document set. PAS will provide a reduced document set of interest with a larger set of ancillary documents showing either background or secondary property claims in the workspace relating to the specific field.


Landscape - A Definition


The term “landscape” is fairly new to the patent and IP lexicon. The matrix out of which it comes is traditional: index and assignee searches; current-title and chain-of-title searches, novelty, patentability, survey and collection searches, clearance, infringement. right-to-use, right-to-operate, public domain, and freedom-to-operate searches. While it is fashionable to think of all of these sophisticated concepts being rolled into one magic package and termed “landscape”, the effort to generate the useable and actionable intelligence retains the same requirements of meticulous professional measured document searching and comparisons that have characterized this professional field for many years.


The intent of the instant landscape project is to provide various property overlays and patent and document maps and to elucidate the IP Workspace. One primary tool to accomplish this is to employ the dual nature of U.S. patents as both prior art documents and as legal property specifications.


The short paragraphs below are intended to give the flavor of the work that would be performed:


Infringement searches: the purpose is to determine if there is another party who has patent rights (claims) that would interfere with your practice of some activity in the marketplace. All inventions are pyramidal in that they build on someone else's property. Question is where is that property and who owns it. U.S. patents have a life of about 17 years (new rules govern the exact term); and PAS first looks at the situation within the United States and to a limited degree other major industrial countries.


While one may invent (that is contribute some new part to the body of human technology) that only gives one the right to exclude others but others have that same right to their patented inventions and that is where the infringement search comes into play.


Licensing and cross licensing: this happens when one makes an improvement that the world cannot live without but someone else owns the basic technology; just the fact that someone has a U.S. patent gives that party procedural advantages in law that can cause one to re-evaluate interest in that area. The infringement search findings begin to open the door to those situations and forewarn. This area also provides a forewarning of these situations and alerts an improver of a pending challenge or partnership opportunity.


Clearance searches: A clearance search looks at the active time frame (ATF) U.S. patents to determine if there are rich candidates for further study and which show the primary features in a single combination. The selections will be made based on the showings in patent disclosures with the idea that the content is capable of supporting claims of interest. These selections will be considered candidates for further study. We will attempt to isolate and identify claims that appear to be worthy of further investigation.


A clearance search is a search in the infringement family of searches which attempts to locate U.S. patents (and shadow U.S. patents such as U.S. applications and foreign documents that could have U.S. counterparts) that have a fairly clear and direct image of the make, use & sell combination without getting too deeply into the subcomponents of such a combination.


The clearance selection documents will have a lot of the look and feel of the make, use and sell description. One metric is that a judge or jury would tend to immediately say this is more or less equal to the make, use and sell activity. In contrast, a more exhaustive infringement search looks at the same matter but goes deeper into the imagination in that it seeks to find U.S. patent and other candidates that have (1) disclosure support for possible claims and (2) have actual claim wording that can be interpreted to “cover” some sub feature of the make, use & sell combination. As one can readily extrapolate, the infringement search has no theoretical boundaries and it is beyond the scope of this Proposal to set those boundaries.


Index searching: Initially, PAS will not be conducting rigorous searches for the names of the parties; rather PAS will search facial assignees as they appear in the art classifications. This is opposed to searching for these parties as assignees or assignors outside of the art areas of interest and/or through assignment records maintained separately by the PTO. Such rigorous index searching, as you can imagine, is generally not as productive and consumes lots of time threading through what turn out to be documents of no interest. This is mentioned only as an alert to clarify that such extensive and exhaustive searching is available if you have a situation where the risk factors are so high as to justify such expenses.


File histories: PAS will selectively engage and investigate prominent file histories and will include excerpted sections of abridged patent prosecution file histories in an effort to elucidate the terms under which the U.S. Government granted claims of in these patents.