Put Aggregators to Work for Quality, Timely Info When Trend Searching

by Steve Pearson on November 29, 2012

Part One of a Two-Part Series by Guest Blogger Steve Pearson, Visionex Solutions, LLC

Photo credit: www.mapthis.net: http://mapthis.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/searching-for-info.jpg

I was truly inspired by the recent MiniTrends 2012 Conference and collected many ideas for improving my business and for passing along to my clients.

After reading the MINITRENDS book, I’d like to share some additional technical and patent resources that might help others as much as they help me in my business providing research for product development and innovation.

Google is popular, but not a good source for piecing together trends: access to a large amount of content dumped in your lap through a single portal is not efficient.

Fortunately, there are information resources that provide broad data in a bibliographic form that facilitates finding the information you desire. There are three general groups of these resources:

  • business/market
  • engineering/science
  • patents/patent applications

Of course, many of these specialty resources require fees, but they can be invaluable for businesses and researchers needing timely and accurate information.

Some options:

Business news typically consists of new product announcements, merger and acquisition news and management changes. Many executives find it valuable to monitor their key competitors or the top executives in those companies. There’s a wide breadth of providers in this category and some are free. A good place to start is doing a Google search, probably for a specific company’s name, and then filtering the results by clicking on “news” in the grey colored font immediately below the search box. (More on automated news alerts in Part 2 next week.)

Technical resources provide focused information related to newly published research, dissertations and conference proceedings. Consider Inspec which monitors roughly 5,000 scientific and technical journals plus some conferences and dissertations. These originate from around the world but often have an English abstract.

Technical services can be a pricey, but consider the savings the first time you rethink your current or upcoming R&D efforts based on information that your competitor may not know.

Patents and patent application aggregators collect updates from international patent offices and store this bibliographic information in their databases. Many countries make this information available to the public, but the ease of use varies dramatically.

For instance, the USPTO maintains its own search engine for finding relevant intellectual property, but there are several limitations:

  • The information is focused solely on the U.S.
  • Searching granted patents and patent applications is done through separate search windows
  • The results shown to your inquiry will often require a lot of time to review.
  • PDF file export is not available.

A  better choice for many is Google Patents as it also covers Europe, is fairly  simple to use, provides results that are easier to navigate and  allows you to export  PDFs.

So, why not use Google Patents for all of your work? There are drawbacks as well:

  • It doesn’t cover  the remainder of the world
  • It’s difficult to drill down to the specific patents and applications that are most relevant to your need
  • It’s difficult to do trend analysis

Many companies find that the best way to control their time and expense is to hire an intermediary to decipher these resources and conduct research as needs arise.

Next week: Where to Start with Automated Alerts

Guest blogger Steve Pearson is a consultant helping companies accelerate innovation and product development. Through his firm Visionex Solutions, LLC, he delivers competitor-busting research with tools and reports he has developed over his career as an engineer, trainer and analyst.

Steve specializes in intellectual property management, technology identification and market assessment and takes pride in applying lessons from his broad background to help those in the electrical, mechanical, energy, construction or transportation industries. Visit  his site  for more information.


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