PatentsView Workshop on
Engaging User Communities - 2017
PatentsView is a patent data visualization and analysis platform intended to increase the value, utility, and transparency of US patent data. The initiative is supported by the Office of the Chief Economist in the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).
The Office of the Chief Economist hosted the 2017 PatentsView Workshop on Engaging User Communities on October 6, 2017. The workshop was open to the public and located on the USPTO’s main campus in Alexandria, VA.
The workshop was focused on New Tools for Open Data. The goals of the workshop were to:
- Launch the new PatentsView Community Site
- Introduce updated visualizations with export functionality
- Present newly parsed and available patent data fields
- Gather feedback from patent data and analytics user communities in order to set priorities for future PatentsView open data products
The main takeaways from the workshop include:
- The existing tools are user friendly and relatively easy to use. The visualizations are a great tool for exploring the data and all attendees were excited about the export functionality.
- Most requests for updates and increased functionality did not include edits/changes to the existing toolset. Wish lists included:
- More timely database updates
- Add published patent applications
- Increased transparency of methods and more documentation
More than 100 participants attended the workshop in person and online. Participants joined from numerous federal agencies, including National Institutes of Health, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Science Foundation, and US Census Bureau, as well as from private, non-governmental, and legal firms. USPTO attendees included members of the Office of the Chief Economist, the patent examiner community, representatives from the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) staff.
Tom Beach, USPTO Chief Data Strategist, kicked off the workshop by describing USPTO’s initiatives in Big Data and how those relate to PatentsView. He described USPTO’s direction, priorities, and ongoing efforts to engage with patent data users and disseminate patent and trademark data to the public.
Andrew Toole, USPTO Acting Chief Economist, followed by describing the history of the PatentsView initiative, the usage of the PatentsView tools, and the popularity of the platform for research.
New PatentsView Product Launches
Amanda Myers (USPTO) and Evgeny Klochikhin (American Institutes for Research) introduced the following PatentsView products that were introduced throughout 2017.
The new PatentsView Community Site - https://patentsview.org/welcome - allows users to engage with each other as a community. It is intended to connect PatentsView users, keep users up to date on recent news and events, and showcase how patent data is used in creative ways by community members. PatentsView users can join the community and contribute to the forum - https://patentsview.org/forum.
Data Visualization and Export Functionality
The PatentsView team redesigned the user interface to https://datatool.patentsview.org/#viz/relationships to highlight interesting and important findings/trends. The entry point visualizations allow users, some of whom may not be familiar with patent data, to begin exploring the data through relationships (i.e., between patents, inventors and assignees), locations, and comparisons across locations and technology areas. The PatentsView team further enhanced the user interface with PDF export and functionality for all visualizations.
Data Updates: New Fields
The PatentsView team added a series of new data fields to the PatentsView database that are now available through the API and bulk downloads. An updated data dictionary is available at https://patentsview.org/download/data-download-tables, with new fields highlighted in yellow. These include: summary text, drawing description text, number of drawings and figures, non-inventor applicant, foreign priority, PCT, related documents, and examiner (raw) name.
At the 2016 PatentsView workshop, the team introduced new government interest data fields, available through the API, bulk data downloads, and Query Builder tool. These data are extracted from the government interest statement on the patent and include government organization name and contract/grant number. For the 2017 workshop, government interest fields were added to the PatentsView list search, allowing users to select government interest as a search option.
Feedback from the PatentsView User Community
The workshop invited feedback from four speakers/panel discussants as well as from the full set of workshop participants.
Invited Speakers and Panel Discussion
USPTO invited speakers from a variety of sectors and patent data user groups to lead a panel discussion on (1) how they use PatentsView data, (2) current hot topics in research using patent data, and (3) new features to improve PatentsView. Invited speakers included:
- Jennifer Shieh, Chief Scientist and Senior Technology Policy Advisor at the US Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Javier Miranda, Principal Economist at the US Census Bureau
- Christopher Glembocki, Attorney at Banner & Witcoff, Ltd.
- Anthony Trippe, Managing Director at Patinformatics, LLC
Jennifer Shieh described how SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs leverage patent data for program evaluation and commercialization performance benchmarking. Javier Miranda discussed how he uses PatentsView data linked to Census data to conduct research on jobs and productivity and highlight the changing nature of innovation. Christopher Glembocki uses PatentsView citation network data to enhance and expedite prosecution of client’s patent applications. Anthony Trippe uses patent data for landscape studies and other analytics to inform industry clients. All speakers provided their “wish list” for PatentsView, as summarized here:
- Link to iEdison
- Post-grant assignment data
- Government interest award identifiers - crosswalk to agency data
- More documentation on methods and data sources - specifically disambiguation methodology
- Dynamic videos - similar to Stern’s Cartography Project
- More timely database updates
- Expand to include US Patent Application Publications
- Permit access to other USPTO datasets - PBD, PEDS, etc.
- Standardize using the application number instead of the publication number
- Develop a global standard for patent families
- Develop a global standard for patent assignees
Breakout Sessions: Summary of User Community feedback
The fifty on-site participants broke out into three groups for a feedback exercise. In each group, a PatentsView team member moderated the discussion and participants shared feedback based on the following fill-in-the-blank “user stories”:
- I am a _____ working at a _____ type of organization. I use patent data to _____.
- I would love to see the PatentsView team prioritize _____ next year. I’d definitely use this for _____.
- I mainly retrieve data from PatentsView using the _____ tool. I’d really like it if the development team made this one change next year: _____.
- I’ve worked with PatentsView data and have had questions about _____. Specifically, I’d like to know _____.
- I’m a new member of the PatentsView community. I’d like to hear from _____ about how they’ve worked with patent and related data.
Participants joining via webcast were provided with an electronic copy of the user stories and asked to submit responses online during the breakout sessions.
All feedback collected onsite and online was reported back to the larger group during the wrap-up directly following the breakout group session.
The following list is a compilation of the feedback received from onsite and remote participants. Since not all five user stories were discussed in-depth, this report will focus only on the first three.
I use patent data to _____
PatentsView users leverage patent data for a variety of research activities related to innovation, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property. Examples of these include:
- Researchers and librarians at USPTO are exploring the relationship between government policy, legal policy, and patenting activity
- Federal research agencies are using USPTO data to identify patents that were influenced by agency grant support and to support program evaluation
- Researchers at the US Census Bureau are matching patent data to internal Census data in order to describe economic activity and performance of inventing and non-inventing firms
- Private firms and consultants are using patent data for firm-level and landscape-level technology analytics for internal and client needs
- Agencies and private firms are using patent data analytics to respond to inquiries from communications offices, for example, regarding local patenting activity
- Multiple research groups are using patent data analytics to track emerging technologies and create patent-level metrics for value and quality
- Multiple research groups are running quality assessment analyses on USPTO data products, including but not limited to PatentsView.
I would love to see the PatentsView team prioritize _____ next year
Users had a wide variety of requests for new data and fields, new functionality, and improved documentation.
Users requested additional patent fields, new pre-calculated fields, and integration of new data sources. These fields include:
- Patent family, priority date, full patent text, maintenance fees, and PCT information
- Extension of existing fields (like usrelapp) that are not included for pre-2001 data to all years
- Pre-calculated/processed fields: disambiguation of authors of prior art, standard value metrics for patents and a cross walk of latitude/longitude to standard geographical identifiers
- New data sources include: data on provisional applications, other USPTO resources (Patents End-to-End, Global Dossier, etc.), government agencies information where relevant government interest statements exist, legal entity identifiers for firm ownership (perhaps from the Department of Treasury), certificates of correction for patents, mergers/acquisition data for assignees, and crowd-sourced datasets and variables from the user community
- One user also suggested that select researchers be granted secure access to transactional data from examiners along with identifying information for all people/businesses in the database
New Functionality and Platform Extensions
Users requested new functionality for the API, new visualization capabilities, more support for community involvement, and a similar service for trademark or copyright data.
- New API functionality: Add the ability to search for null fields and expand the row limit on API query returns
- New visualization functionality: Allow users to map API query results and include a visualization tool that could allow users to trace the history of innovation by technology field
- Platform extensions:
- An open algorithm platform and associated competition for standard patent quality measures that researchers are already developing
- A similar web-based platform for trademark data (and possible copyright data)
Users requested documentation of existing data and roadmaps for the future, including:
- Clearer documentation of data sources
- A single point of information on all USPTO open data efforts
- Clearer tracking of what changes were made in each data update
Some users also requested documentation around how to use PatentsView resources, including instructional videos on how to acquire and analyze data (to allow librarians to encourage PatentsView use) and PatentsView code instructions for Linux. Finally, users also wanted a PatentsView roadmap for developers so that people could anticipate how the tool will be updated.
I’d really like it if the development team made this one change next year
Feedback from the user community showed a general consensus on the usability of the PatentsView platform tools, which did not necessarily require new functionality changes or updates per se. The majority of users, however, cited the need for additional documentation of existing data and the data methodologies used by PatentsView, specifically inventor, assignee and location disambiguation algorithms.