Expert Patent Searchers Have Focus
Dedicated athletes training for a major competition plan every hour to ensure they do their best to achieve the desired result. Patent searchers work under tight time constraints, with a mandate to find the best art available to meet the requirements of the project. That is why it is absolutely critical that, like an athlete driving themselves to achieve peak performance, a patent searcher has the ability to approach each project with a laser-like focus on the search objectives. In this article, we explore why intense focus is a must in providing customers with the best possible search results.
Why is Being Focused So Important?
Excellent patent searchers must have a merciless focus on understanding the precise objectives of each search (and of the underlying case, if appropriate). More broadly, they also need to achieve a consistent focus on their work and its quality. It is this focus that allows the searcher to scope the search appropriately and to confidently find the best available patent or non-patent technical literature references. It is this focus, extending from the initial discussion with the customer through to the final delivery of the results, which allows the searcher to maximize the value of every minute spent on a search.
But focus must not preclude flexibility. Interim results may indicate a need to take the search in a slightly different direction. If it is not possible to find the perfect reference, the searcher must challenge themselves to unearth the next best reference. For example, when performing an exact chemical structure search, there is a clear line – the structure either exists or it doesn’t. If the specific structure cannot be found, the searcher must demonstrate flexibility and work to find the next best option. Nevertheless, such a course change is still rooted in maintaining the focus needed to meet the project objectives, plus the stamina to press on in the face of additional challenge.
Why is Being Focused a Must Throughout the Search Process?
For every project, focus is important throughout the search process, just as it is for high-level athletes preparing for every competition. It begins during the initial consultation with the customer, when the searcher works to understand the legal or business objective that is driving the search with perfect clarity. All the effort that follows flows from a focus on performing every step in the project in support of this objective. There are many examples of the importance of focus throughout a search:
- Excellent searchers apply focus to develop an efficient, targeted search strategy that is most likely to uncover references that best meet the objectives of the search within the time available.
- When reviewing results, the searcher must stay focused on how objectives vary based on the overall purpose of the search – a specific reference might be relevant for a freedom to operate search, but have no value for a patentability search.
- The disclosure provided by a customer may be many pages long. An excellent searcher will review the document with an intense focus on the objectives in order to identify the specific language that is critical for the search.
- Excellent searchers maintain intense focus on their efforts throughout every Distractions can’t be allowed to disrupt their flow of thinking as they execute the search strategy, evaluate search results and prepare the report for the customer.
At a more granular level, when performing an invalidity search, the searcher reviewing the prosecution history for the target patent may see that the claims contain 15 elements, but there is only one unique element – this becomes the focus for the search. Or if the crux of the case is the fourth limitation in claim 7, that provides us with an advantage in focusing our search efforts.
Can Maintaining a Strict Focus be Taught?
Focusing appropriately on objectives throughout a search project, and achieving a strong and consistent focus in general, can be taught through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. Every one of our newly hired searchers goes through an intense, internal, multi-week training program, where daily search workouts stress the importance of maintaining focus on project objectives. We developed this program based on our experience of performing thousands of searches for our customers. Our “focus on focus” ensures that every one of our searchers applies this discipline to every search and builds quality into our work products. These skills are honed and refined over time and come with the practice of performing searches.
An excellent, focused searcher learns how to quickly identify which references are relevant to the search’s objectives and which are not. They learn how to remain focused without fail on the task in front of them and when it’s time to take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and refocus. We support these efforts by managing our workflow and processes to ensure that our searchers can dedicate uninterrupted time to each search project. Our searchers may not all exhibit the physical qualities of top athletes (though some do!), but they are kindred in both focus and determination.
At CPA Global we understand that the search results we deliver are used to support critical and high-value decisions. The precise results that our customers demand mean that complete and consistent focus is mandatory in delivering an excellent search. Instilling every single one of our searchers with such a focus is a key consideration allowing CPA Global to provide our corporate and law firm customers with the best quality in patent searching.