WHY IP-SCREEN (sort of like a FAQ)
WHAT IS IP-SCREEN?
IP-Screen does one thing only, but fast.
If you know the name of a company, an IP-Screen search is currently the fastest method you can use to get a list of the U.S. intellectual property owned under the entity name. Just type in the name once, and in a flash you will get back results from several U.S. government public access databases on IP (Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, and U.S. Customs). Summary results are presented all on a single screen for easy navigation.
America is a great country, and America has the strongest Intellectual Property system in the world. Simpler and faster public IP data access will be good for IP development.
WHAT IS IP-SCREEN USED FOR?
- IP ownership tells you a lot about a business. An IP-Screen search is the quickest way to size up any competitor.
- An IP-Screen search should be the first step in any M&A DD project.
- It would be a rare American business, especially a long established one, that does not have registered intellectual property. So next time you get any sort of business proposal, do an IP-Screen search on the company.
- You are at a trade show, and you come upon an unknown company. Just pull out your smart phone and IP-Screen search the company name.
- Your competitor's lawyer comes up to your booth at a trade show and demands that you take down your display because of some alleged infringement. Keep him honest by doing an IP-Screen search to see what rights his client may have.
- You are waiting for that rare conference with your department head, and need to show that you are up on the development within the company. What better way than to quickly IP-Screen search and come up with some points of interest?
- You are sitting outside the room for your job interview. Do an IP-Screen search on the employer and come up with intelligent talking points.
- Dead trademarks can tell a lot. Do an IP-Screen search to see what TM registrations and applications were dropped by the company.
- Showing all the IP in one place gives you a focused view of the entity (this is especially helpful to attorneys).
IP-Screen search is a quick, simple tool; by design it is neither comprehensive nor complete. But you can do the search yourself, whenever and wherever you are, and the price is right!
I am sure you will come up with new ways and reasons for using IP-Screen. Do share with us!
SOME INHERENT LIMITS
Use IP-Screen only as a quick first step of your investigations:
- IP-Screen is intended as a quick and handy tool for the busy executive (get results in less than 1 minute), and the search can be done anywhere. Its use is premised on the user actually knowing what names to use in the query. Larger corporations often use complex IP holding structures that change over time, and searching only the commonly known company name is therefore often incomplete. An IP-Screen search clearly cannot replace thorough investigation or due diligence done by real lawyers.
- The quick search offered by IP-Screen is INCOMPLETE. At least some of the government databases contain ONLY RECENT DATA. For example, the following databases contain limited data:
U.S. Patent Office: Issued Patents 1976-Present
U.S. Patent Office: Published Applications 2001-Present
U.S. Copyright Office: Copyright Catalog 1978-Present
- For the purpose of searching for patents under a company name, the time period limitations are perhaps not as big a problem, since U.S. patents have a maximum life of 20 years (used to be 17). Patents before 1976 have all expired.
- HOWEVER, copyrights have MUCH LONGER terms, and the calculation of copyright terms can be very complicated.
Therefore simply searching records from 1978 onwards (the limitation of the Copyright Office online catalog) is clearly INCOMPLETE.
Unfortunately there does not appear to be a single database that contains all of the registered copyrights.
See for example http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/cce/.
Therefore the caveat is that if you have real questions about copyrights, please go see a lawyer.
- Since IP-Screen relies directly on the actual search engines at the government IP sites, when any of the public access site is down, or slow, for example due to regular maintenance, the performance of IP-Screen meta-search could suffer. In those cases, you should perhaps try later, or supplement the meta-search with separate searches."
KNOWN SEARCH ISSUES
- Periods in Names. The government databases do not like queries with periods in the names. So if the company names you are searching contains periods, you may get unexpected results. That is probably not fixable in the short term. Try searching without the periods (leave a blank in place of the period) if you do not get what you are expecting.
- Limit on Results. Currently the Copyright Office database truncates results at 10,000 hits. So if the company you are searching (e.g., IBM) has more than 10,000 entries in the Copyright Office database, only 10,000 will be returned. But then if you are seriously looking at these big portfolios, you should be doing it through your lawyer anyway.
- Customs IPRS. The search on the U.S. Customs IPR database is set to "ALL" fields. This is a compromise. The database is relatively small (with less than 30,000 entries). But what we have found is that if you search in the "OWNER" field, often you do not get the results you want (could be due to inconsistent data input). So we erred on the side of staying broad, and go with searching all fields.
- Other Punctuation Marks. The ampersand (&) in the entity name is known to cause problems. At least some of the databases will ignore the ampersand mark and anything that comes after it, therefore giving unresponsive results. An apostrophe (') in the name is also known to cause hiccup in searches (e.g., McDonald's).
- The IP-Screen search is done by name. The fewer words you use, the more inclusive the results will be. Therefore if the results are over-inclusive, try using more words from the complete company name.