The following is part one of a two-part article I recently wrote for the MiniTrends blog. Part two on Automated Alerts will be posted later this week.
I was genuinely inspired by the recent MiniTrends 2012 Conference and collected many ideas for improving my business and for passing them 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 inefficient.
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:
• 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.
Business news typically includes 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 pricey, but consider the savings the first time you rethink your current or upcoming R&D efforts based on the information 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 search engine for finding intellectual property, but there are several limitations:
• The information is focused solely on the U.S.
• Searching granted patents and patent applications are done through separate search windows
• The results shown 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 relatively simple to use, provides easier-to-navigate results, 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 isn’t easy to drill down to the specific patents and applications that are most relevant to your need
• It isn’t easy 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