Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Search Matters Den Haag September 2007

Search Matters: Seminar on Search & Documentation Working Methods The Hague 10-11 Sept 07

This two-day event was attended by four PATLIB UK members – Maria Lampert & Peter Gibbs from BIPC, Chris Brown from Manchester & Ged Doonan from Leeds – along with over two hundred other delegates from all over Europe. It consisted of a series of lectures & workshops covering a wide range of topics from the general to the specific – and of varying degrees of interest to ourselves.

The lectures covered such subjects as the EPO’s classification strategy and how it stores and classifies new information; the importance of non-patent literature in searching; searching freely-available information sources; and the perspective of a user of the European patent system. This latter talk by Werner Frohling of Volvo included some surprisingly basic information on patenting and searching.

The most valuable part of the event was the workshops. Those I attended included “Computer implemented inventions” – a pretty grey area for most people. The EPO is working on clearer guidelines for such inventions in an attempt to clarify the current situation as far as European Patent applications are concerned. It was a useful discussion, much of it focussing (as you’d expect) on “technical effect,” and the workshop overran by some way.

A related topic was the “Internet as a source of prior art.” The internet is obviously a growing source of information and brings its own difficulties for the searcher. On one hand the possibility of a document being accessed on the internet puts it into the public domain, while on the other hand documents frequently do not remain on the internet and dating the disclosure is often not easy.

Some of these discussions also served as a handy reminder of such things as Google’s advanced search interface where stemming and proximity searching is possible to an extent.

There was an awful lot packed into two days and I was brain-dead by the end of it, but it was certainly a worthwhile event.

Ged Doonan

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