New Software – Ishtar

Post Grant Review allows you to challenge an issued patent within 9 months after its issue.  Naturally, this assumes that you’ve discovered the patent’s existence within those 9 months.  How do you do this?

Well, newly issued patents are published in the Official Gazette.  Take a moment to play with it.  As you can see, using the Gazette to answer basic questions (“Who received the most patents last week?”, “What class category received the most patents?”, “Is there a trend in recent issuances?”, etc.) is darn near impossible.  Navigating the mish-mash of HTML frames is tedious.  You can use the raw XML data instead, but the unzipped file is typically >200MB, so good luck with that.

Now,  Thomson Reuters or someone almost certainly provides a service that will organize this data for you.  But as a taxpayer who already paid once for the data to be available, I find it tedious that I should have to pay again simply to understand it.

So I wrote Ishtar (link here).  Ishtar was a goddess of fertility and war (see the patent connection?). Less well known is her role as goddess of issued patents (work with me here).

Ishtar pulls the raw USPTO data for the past 4 weeks and reorganizes it into a friendly D3 interface.  I haven’t introduced email updates for searches, but it’s trivial to do so if you’re interested in such things.  It only updates the data after a request, so if you haven’t used it for a while and the last update was more than a week ago, try again in ~5 minutes and it should be updated.

As with all patent search tools the usual caveats regarding treble damages apply.  Just to briefly reiterate:

You SHOULD NOT use Ishtar if:

  • Your boss has told you not to look at patents
  • You’re an engineer in a giant corporation and you want to casually investigate a known competitor’s patents in a field in which your company is active
  • Etc.

You SHOULD use Ishtar if:

  • You’re a startup not yet invested in a tech space and want to see who is active in the area (and if someone already patented your idea, no big deal, you’ll just pivot)
  • You’re a non-practicing independent entity (e.g., a doctor) and want to understand the space to file more compelling IP for your own ideas (no sense reinventing the wheel)
  • You’re a strategist engaged in a well-considered research project
  • Etc.

NOTE:  Even after reducing the dataset from >800MB to 2MB, and even after making that reduced form dynamically retrievable, Ishtar still imposes a burden on your browser as the 2MB must be parsed into HTML.  There are (nontrivial) ways to speed this up even further, but for now, you should use Ishtar on a desktop or laptop rather than an iPAD or iPhone, etc.