Expert Patent Searchers are Curious
Curiosity killed the cat, but in the world of patent and non-patent technical literature searching, that same cat would survive and thrive, ultimately becoming far superior to his fellow felines. In our world, curiosity motivates excellent searchers to come to work every day to perform a job that they love. This curious nature also impacts how searchers approach each project, directly inspiring the delivery of superior search reports for customers.
Why is Curiosity So Important?
Technology is at the heart of searching. Every search requires expertise in the technical area underlying the patents or products that are the foundation of their projects. Thus, every searcher has a particular technology specialty, and they bring their knowledge, passion and expertise to bear on each search that they perform. At CPA Global, most searchers have earned advanced degrees in their technical area.
Being curious and eager to explore the latest developments in their technical area of focus encourages continuous learning. This naturally results in improvements in their efficiency, effectiveness and accuracy over time. In addition, since searchers return to the same or similar subject matter repeatedly, their learning ramps up quickly, and they are able to leverage and build on their knowledge base. This directly benefits customers by building quality and insight into their search results.
The universe of patent and non-patent literature is growing every day; it’s simply not possible for one individual to keep up with every new technical development, every new patent and piece of non-patent technical literature, and every new searching tool or resource relating to their area of expertise. But a curious searcher will do a better job of keeping up-to-date than a searcher lacking this perspective because they are eagerly exploring new technologies and new search resources every day.
Some of the other ways in which excellent searchers exhibit their curious natures include:
- They love keeping up on the cutting edge of new developments in their technology area.
- They are energized by getting an understanding of how things work and love to conceptually take things apart.
- They are excited to learn about new resources that will support their search projects, and how to use them.
- They enjoy returning to the same subject matter over the course of their career and seeing how the technology changes and develops over time.
Why is Curiosity a Must Throughout the Search Process?
Curiosity is a key driver of an excellent searcher’s performance throughout a patent search. At every step in the search process, the curious searcher will be asking themselves “What if?”, which will lead to new directions and avenues in their search that would have otherwise been missed. For example:
- During the scoping call with the client for a freedom-to-operate search, we reviewed the product features to be searched. Do I have a full understanding of the business need behind this search? And I wonder if there are any variations of the product features that could be encompassed by broad patent claims?
- In reviewing the background of a patent, I came across a description of a piece of lab equipment that seems interesting for this search. What if I could find the product brochure or operating manual for that piece of equipment?
- The non-patent literature resources that I am familiar with don’t appear to have good coverage of the specific technical area that is important to this search. What if I could find a non-patent literature resource that was a great source for this technical area?
- This inventor seems to be involved in several key patents that I’ve already uncovered. I wonder what I’d find if I searched specifically based on their name?
- I’m having trouble finding good references for this mechanical search. I think I’ll try searching online crowdsourced collections because that has been a good resource for searches relating to this subject matter in the past.
Can Curiosity Be Taught?
Curiosity is a trait that can’t really be taught. However, it is extremely likely that individuals who have chosen to pursue a degree in science or engineering and then continue to extend their knowledge by becoming a search analyst do so as a result of innate curiosity and interest in their chosen field. Their curiosity and appetite for discovery and exploration is part of the reason they take this career path.
At CPA Global, we use several approaches to nurture and feed our searchers’ curiosity. In addition to our in-depth training program on search methodologies and resources that all new searchers attend, we provide ongoing professional training covering topics such as:
- Search techniques
- New releases to core searching resources
- Launch of new searching resources
- Critical updates to patent law that impact searching
We also provide our searchers with access to our internal Reference Desk, staffed by a librarian who is an expert in searching tools and resources. Searchers with questions about a particular searching tool or in need of a resource to meet a specific need can reach out to our Reference Desk for assistance, as well as to the other members of the search team.
Curious searchers are well-positioned to be excellent searchers. Curiosity makes the searcher pursue lifelong learning and proactively look for new approaches and resources to improve their searches. The net impact for customers is altogether better search results.