(NOTE: At the end of this post is a detailed spreadsheet that lists the free and low cost tools that I use regularly in my IP strategy practice. At the request of a group of IP strategy professionals with whom I network, I will be giving a presentation on these tools at a local event. I thought that readers of this blog would also appreciate learning about how these tools can add high value at a low to minimal cost.)
In private conversations, some of my corporate peers inform me that they pay $1000′s per year (or even per quarter for larger companies) for access to “name brand” patent search tools that nonetheless do not contain accurate and up to date information. For example, a client tells me that one of these expensive tools fails to update USPTO records on a portfolio her company is monitoring and that the PAIR data is more than 1 year out of date. This limits the effectiveness of the expensive database by requiring her IP support staff to check each individual record on a regular basis to update the data. Of course, this limitation defeats the purpose of spending the big bucks to engage with a “name brand” search tool.
Certainly, one need not have sympathy for corporate IP professionals who manage large department budgets–if they spend needlessly on “name brand” tools and staff to manage the quality of such tools, so be it. But most companies with IP strategy needs do not have money and staff to purchase such tools, let alone to fix the errors in the datasets obtained from them. Others might wish not to waste their department budgets on worthless tools. To this end, over the last 5 years, I have used a number of free and low cost tools in my IP strategy practice. I use all of these tools on a regular basis and have personally validated the quality and validity of each one for my practice.
Notably, this list was generated from actual landscaping and portfolio management projects performed by me for both large and small corporate clients. I have used other tools in the past that did not meet my high standards of quality, ease of use and data integrity–if a tool is not on this list and I have previously recommended it elsewhere on this blog, you should assume that I have experienced some degree of problem with the product and no longer use it or it has disappeared from the list of free or low cost tools. Continue reading →