In 2007 the Office reformulated its patent information policy, putting a
new emphasis on barrier-free access to patent information, so that it can now
make not only its data but also its search tools available to the public.
China is now the world's third largest publisher of patent documents after Japan and the USA. Over half of the new patent documents entering the state of the art in 2007 were in either Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Consequently, as a service to industry, the Office expanded its East Asian patent information helpdesk, staffed by Chinese and Japanese-speaking experts in the associated patent systems and information products. After the successful launch of the Japanese language interface to esp@cenet, preparations are now in hand for a similar interface to Register Plus and the related tools.
On the patent statistics front in 2007, the Office developed best-practice examples of how to use its databases for patent statistics and patent mapping. In the field of raw data services, it started making clipped images of its patent document archive available to users. These are images "clipped" from the first pages of patent documents, which will be particularly useful for companies or commercial providers who want to bring together bibliographic data, abstract information and representative drawings.
There was a major improvement to the legal status database in autumn, with the addition of substantial amounts of data on the payment of annual renewal fees for European patents in the national phase, an enhancement which will make it far easier to identify the countries in which a granted European patent is in force. A further improvement to the legal status information was the inclusion of more data on supplementary protection certificates, such as the trade names of pharmaceutical preparations and the registration data at national food and drug administrations.