Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A patent success

20.01.2009
A European project has created a powerful patent search service for SMEs. It is a major step forward as patents and patent information are extremely valuable.

We live in a knowledge economy, and patents are the legal tender. They define a company’s or individual’s stake and they are the mechanism by which ideas can be both exchanged and, at the same time, protected.

But getting patent information can be difficult. There are many databases scattered across Europe and the rest of the world, and the search options are limited: they are either cheap but restricted, or effective but very expensive. You must either go through each source for information, or pay hefty fees to a specialist who does it for you.

That leaves SMEs, the majority of Europe’s enterprises, in a bind: either they struggle with the awkward, difficult and time-consuming cheaper search (which ends up costing money in any case because of the time personnel must devote to the work), or they incur serious costs using professionals.

Unsuspected value

The final option is to ignore patents altogether, but this is a costly option, too. Costly in terms of the lost opportunities, as most SMEs don’t even begin to suspect the value of the information discovered through patent searches.

Innovall, an eTEN-funded project, is keen to see SMEs not miss out on the value of patenting and patent knowledge.

For example, one company that participated in the Innovall project, a tyre manufacturer, sought a solution to a problem it was having with waste rubber extruded through the mould during the manufacturing process. By using Innovall’s search service the tyre company discovered a useful patent in the baking industry of all things.

“It shows how useful and valuable information can be discovered, even if it relates to a completely different industry,” explains Alfredo Silva, coordinator of the Innovall project.

Google for patents

Innovall was set up to explore the best way to make patent search simple. The solution was to create a web portal that essentially acts as the Google for patents. The search engine connects with eight large databases, with hundreds of thousands of patent records.

There are three layers of search that companies can choose from. The most basic level is the ‘function’ search, which looks for patents in terms of what they do. This may be basic, but it is also very powerful, as the example of the tyre company shows.

Even better, Innovall has used ontologies, which are dictionaries that translate different terms to help define a search. “For example, you might be looking for a friction device, but the system will also search for words like drag, brake, decelerate and so on,” explains Silva.

That’s just the beginning. A ‘company’ search will look up all the patents registered by one company, a competitor perhaps, and it will list information such as what country, branch or even department submitted the patent. Finally, Innovall can search by ‘product name’, completing the range of services.

The results take a bit longer than a standard Google search, but given the nature of the search, this is to be expected.

Keen hunters

The 60 organisations – and hundreds of individuals within them – who are currently actively testing the system are very enthusiastic about the results and the information that Innovall retrieves.

These ‘testers’ will be a key part of the next step. Innovall hopes to convert them to a core group of users of the service when it goes live in earnest. This will boost efforts to commercialise the service, because it must become sustainable if it is going to survive.

Right now, Innovall is considering a variety of business models. One plan is to leave the ‘function’ service free, and then charge tiered subscriptions for more detailed or specific searches.

For now, the project will continue to perfect the technology until March 2009, when they hope to have their business plans finalised and ready for prime time.

“This is a very important service,” says Silva. “It fills a glaring gap in current offerings, it empowers SMEs to get to grips with patents, and it offers the potential to boost European competitiveness.”

The Innovall Market Validation project received funding from the eTEN programme.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90368

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation
22.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Mathematical confirmation: Rewiring financial networks reduces systemic risk
22.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>