Patent Analysis: Data Analysis & Result Visualisation

Patent Analysis
by Juan C. Dürsteler

One of the less usual applications of information visualisation is patent visualisation. In fact visualising patent information is just a part of text or document visualisation. In the end, a patent is just text with a certain structure and with a specific objective.
Patents encompass several aspects that have, nonetheless, great importance.:

  • they are a way to protect intellectual property rights
  • our own rights, allowing us to produce without being copied with inpunity
  • the other’s rights, preventing us of using alien developments.

For these reasons patents constitute a very important source of information about the competitors. This makes them the main tool for technological and business intelligence. On the other hand, knowing which patents are enforced in the market is vital before deciding to make a new development or product, with the important investment it means, that could be finally blocked by an existing patent.
Many patent offices already allow to freely download abstracts and complete text of their patents. Among them the USPTO from United States or the EPO from Europe, and many others you can find, for example, in the list. In particular Esp@cenet, the download service of the European Patent Office has become a very popular source of information in this field.
Based on the many possibilities of search that all this offers, there have been appearing in the market different systems allowing you to search, download and analyse patents automatically. Many of them are present in the Patent Information Users Group (PIUG) vendors list. Although downloading, classificating, clustering and finding the relationship between patents of similar contents has become quite widespread, even making use of text mining tools, the visualisation of those resuts is not so usual.
Anacubis, patent division of the i2 inc group, has some visualisation demos that use i2 inc Analyst’s Notebook visualisation tool. Unfortunately some problem with the demo has prevented me from executing it properly, so I can’t report on it. provides two main types of visualisations:
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Spore Inc
Spore Inc

But maybe Mathéo Software represents one of the easiest to use systems (you can download a free demo) that incorporates four main types of visualisation that can be produced with many combinations of the different variables that identify a patent. We’ll focus on MatheoPatent 6.1. This program allows you to launch a search on different sources according to keywords, inventors, etc. With the downloaded results you can get the following types of visualisation.

¿Do you remember ThemeScape and newsmaps? (see number 93). Finally this technology, renamed as Aureka!, has become the patent visualisation of MicroPatent. This way, this extraordinary form of visualisation has seen its incorporation to the world of patents. Let’s recall that ThemeScape allows you to represent a document corpus as a topographic map where the “mountains” are associated with frequent terms (predominant “themes”) that are as close as their concepts are similar.
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Patent visualisation is just one more within the possibilities of text mining. Nevertheless, as anyone working in R+D knows, detecting the patents that can prevent us to follow a research line or finding a “hole” where there’s nothing patented can be fundamental for the business strategy of a company. Visualisation is vital to open a way through the web of legal text, [sometimes obscure] claims, and the large amount of data that represent the world of patents. We are still an a very preliminar stage in this field.
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