Analysis involved in the study
In this report we provide user analysis of a number of representative public and commercial IP information providers. A set of queries was devised to allow direct comparison of the search engines, described below. Observations were made on a variety of parameters, services and features of special interest to each of the two types of users mentioned above. We also noted convenience metrics such as speed and whether patent documents can be downloaded in entirety as PDF files.
While analysis of all available providers would be well beyond the scope of this report, it was possible to choose the major providers, in that consolidation has been a key trend within the commercial sector, with multi-nationals such as the Thomson Corporation controlling a number of previously independent providers. A number of databases, such as the Derwent World Patent Index (DWPI), have become industry standards and are used by a number of otherwise competing providers. For this study we also looked at a number of additional providers, aiming to select primarily those that use somewhat different search approaches than the standard, and a number of national patent offices.
Despite the concentration of private search service ownership and the sharing of some core resources, the range and complexity of searching options available is such that conducting an effective search using existing tools is in no way straightforward for Australian innovators. Even these databases have gaps in data, sometimes caused by delays with access to raw data.2 For Australian patent literature, we were unable to locate providers that would allow a comprehensive search of full specification texts.