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Discussion of all things patent mapping and analytics.
AmberScope is a new patent searching engine developed by Ambercite, in close cooperation with patent attorneys Griffith Hack, and able to find patents that may be missed by existing patent search processes. AmberScope is introduced in the video found here, but how well does AmberScope work in practice?
Earlier this year Google acquired three patents owned by Motion Research Technologies, and covering a pair of glasses for augmented vision. These patents included US7631968, filed in 2007, and which disclose a pair of glasses looking similar to this:
The claims of the patent cover the concept of the displayed image being controlled by the movement of the glasses. The granted patent includes a list of prior art documents, but did the examiner for this patent find all of the relevant prior art?
This is where AmberScope can be very helpful. The image below shows what happens if we run a search for this patent US7631968 ('968) in AmberScope.
Each dot represents a patent, with the dot surrounded by the red circle being '968, which was the 'focus' patent of this patent network. All of the patents connected to the '968 patent are shown, and these are represented in a light grey colour. Some other features are:
as opposed to the connection lines hidden behind the dots, which shows a directly connected patent
Ghost patents can be very valuable, as these can disclose inventions that were not considered by the patent examiner (otherwise they would be listed in the search report) but still may be relevant.
But are these connected patents relevant to the '968 patent? 'Personal ratings' are just that, and so I went though and rated all of the connected patents, Figure 2. This also changed the colour of the dots, and the details of each patent rated are moved across to the table to the right after they have been rated.
In this figure, green patents are not thought to be relevant, blue patents are potentially relevant patents that are directly connected, and purple patents are potentially relevant ghost patents.
What do these patents disclose? The different patents all disclose different inventions, but one of the more interesting connected patents is US6349001, shown below, and which discloses:
An eyeglass interface system is provided which integrates interface systems within eyewear. The system includes a display assembly and one or more audio and/or video assemblies mounted to an eyeglass frame
This is a relatively influential patent, with an AmberScore of 13, in other words 13 times as influential as the average granted US patent.
So already, AmberScope has shown its potential to find potentially relevant patents, even if in this case the examiner had also identified this patent as relevant prior art (hence the direct citation connection). But AmberScope includes another feature that can also assist in finding relevant prior art, namely the ability to 'walk the net', or refocus the patent network on any patent. This can be done as easily as selecting the 'more' button in the patent box as shown below. In this particular case, the button reads "178 more", which means that besides the connection between the '9001 patent and the '968 patent we started with, there are 178 other citation connections to this '9001 patent.
Selecting this 'more' button refocuses the patent network to be recentered on US6349001, allowing you to see it 178 direct connections, as well as its ghost patent connections.
Note that some of these patents are already coloured in yellow (the patent has been viewed), blue or purple This is because these patents were also seen in the network focused on the '968 patent, and AmberScope that remembered your previous ratings for these patents and transferred these ratings across. Practically, this means that you do not have to review these patents again, and instead can focus on the 'new' patents, which are coloured in grey.
But are any of these patents relevant to the Google glasses patent? To do this, we need to review the individual patent nodes - luckily this does not take that long within the AmberScope interface. As we do this, one of the more interesting patents we find is US5585871, which discloses:
A display apparatus secured to a temple or bridge contacting portion of an eyewear, the apparatus including means for monitoring the wearer's heart rate, lap position, laps completed, time elapsed, etc. An image of the collected data is transmitted into the wearer's field of view by means of a fiber optic element and projected at a focal point within the focusing range of the wearer's eyes.
This is not exactly the same as the Google glasses patent, but does include the element of augmented vision. Hence we have identified a second means of finding patents relevant to a starting patent.
Which is also potentially relevant.
But so are many of the 'ghost' patents that were shown when the network was focused on the '968 patent, for example US6091546, which discloses
An eyeglass interface system is provided which integrates interface systems within eyewear. The system includes a display assembly and one or more audio and/or video assemblies mounted to an eyeglass frame. The display assembly is mounted to one temple and provides an image which can be viewed by the user
This is an influential patent, with an AmberScore of 17 and 189 further connections. This is a third way of identifying relevant patents.
Ghost patents can also be used to refocus the network, which is what we have done below:
And when we do so, some of the new patents that we find when browsing this network may also be relevant to the '946 patent, for example US5719588, which discloses:
A viewing device for receiving video signals and generating corresponding images for viewing comprising a frame or support, adapted to be worn on the user's head, for example, a frame similar to a spectacle frame
So we have a fourth way of finding potentially relevant prior art, namely finding patents connected to ghost patents. And of course, we could make any of the patent in the new graph a focus patent, and continue to 'walk the net', and search for more relevant patents.
In this short discussion, we have shown how it is possible to find potentially relevant prior art, some of it missed by the patent examiner, simply by starting with the patent number you are concerned about. This potentially relevant prior art could be
These different mechanisms are summarised in the diagram below.
And if you don't have a suitable starting patent, you could conduct a simple search for a start patent by running a simple conventional patent search for a starting patent which is close, but not close enough, to what you are looking for.
It is also worth considering what we have not done in this search:
And yet in this short demonstration we are only using part of the capability of AmberScope. Future blog posts will discuss these other capabilities and how they can assist you in finding relevant patents.
Postscript - comparison of keyword and patent codes in the patents found to the starting patent
This is a good demonstration of how searching using keywords and patent codes could give you misleading results.
March 2013 update - some of the images shown above feature quite crowded patent landscapes. Thanks to an update in AmberScope introduced in February 2013, the same search would show a less crowded landscape which would be easier to navigate and faster to load - but still produce the same outcomes.
Ambercite and its products including Network Patent Analysis (NPA) and AmberScope analyse patent data using a statistical based approach that is based on available patent citation and ownership data. These outputs are purely mathematical in nature, and do not take into account the personal or professional opinions of any individuals or associates of Ambercite. These outputs are intended to be used as tool to help support further analysis, and should not be used by itself and without professional advice on the relevancy of this data to your unique circumstances. Data should not be relied upon to prove without any further analysis any opinion of the value, patentability, validity, freedom to operate or infringement of any patent, patents or inventions. Users should also be aware that available patent citation data is imperfect, and this will affect the results of this analysis. © Patent Analytics Holding Pty Ltd. Ambercite™, Network Patent Analysis™, NPA™ and Next Generation Patent mapping™ are trade marks of Patent Analytics Holding Pty Ltd. Components of the processes used to perform Network Patent Analysis and AmberScope are the subject of patent applications filed in the United States and elsewhere.