Simplify Your Search

by: Tyron Stading


Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.  --Albert Einstein

One of the things I’m constantly asked about is the specifics of our search capability. I’ll often run down the list, from the common to the more obscure. Overall, the response to our breadth of options has been very positive.

I’ve even gotten involved with porting some of the queries from different engines to ours. This can be a dizzying experience. The level of complexity in some of these queries is amazing.

For the more involved case (and even for the simple one) it’s good to take a step back and focus on the goal of the project. Often the questions are much more mundane than the queries. What’s happened is that the user has been forced over time to modify the query to get a relevant data set. This caused a morphing of what was once probably something very simple and clear. Some users are so used to this that they can write (and even think) in this complex boolean logic.

The answer is usually not in directly porting the boolean logic to our system. By understanding the goal, the options available with Innography can often rescue us from this unnecessary complexity.

Being in the right vicinity is the most important part of the answer. I lightly touched on the advantages of the patent classification system in my last blog post. The classification system is one of the vicinities. By limiting your search space to relevant technologies and applications, your query can be simplified to more easily capture the relevant data.

There are other vicinities. A list of competitors, a date range, or even inventors can all be vicinities. Even business information such as revenues or the amount of intellectual property litigation might give you a vicinity. It all depends on the final goal.

The filters available on the left side of any result set are how you can get to the right vicinity. I’ve been able to assist our users in transforming complicated, hierarchical boolean logic down to just a few plain keywords with a few filters. When that happens, even I can understand what’s being searched.

The added advantage to simplified search is that our users are able to easily modify it to get immediate insights. This changes the game. It makes the patent search process about insights rather than data retrieval. Pushing the insights into the search process gives our users the power to make decisions during the research rather than as a result of it. It might take a little while to get used to this process, but once implemented our users find it invaluable.

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