2008 saw a number of major developments in the patent information field, with the launch of the new SmartSearch feature in esp@cenet and of ESPACE Global Patent Index (GPI), a worldwide patent search product.
SmartSearch follows the trend away from a search screen with different search fields, grouping all the search options in a single box. Users can enter simple names or numbers, or they can construct complex queries. This dispenses with unnecessary complexity for newcomers to patent searching, while offering advanced search facilities for experienced users.
GPI, which is targeted at experienced users, combines the advantages offered by the EPO's highly advanced MIMOSA search software with the high data capacity available today via the internet. In essence, it allows users to search in the Office's bibliographic data collection, retrieving additional information via Open Patent Services (OPS) and linking to the full documents in esp@cenet.
OPS is a web service which gives users access to the same data as esp@cenet but caters for machine-to-machine communication. It has now been successfully upgraded, the enhancements making it possible for external parties to create an entire search interface tailored to their own requirements for retrieving data from the EPO's worldwide database.
The most significant event in 2008 affecting the EPO's publicly available databases was the inclusion of fee administration data. This new information, which is updated monthly, shows whether the yearly patent renewal fees have been paid for European patents in the national phase for all member states, making it easier to gain an overview of where a granted European patent is in force.