|Free Patents Online Database||31/07/2005 - 20:50:09|
My name is James Ryley. I used to run a patent searching company, and in the course of running that company I grew frustrated with the patent data sources that were available. All of them were either slow, not powerful enough, too expensive, or a combination of the three. Luckily, I have a strong background in web design and programming. So, after grumbling for a while about the poor quality of electronic patent searching databases that were available, I decided to stop complaining and do something about it. And so freepatentsonline.com was born. Of course, that's the short version of the story. The longer version of the story is a lot more colorful, with a lot more profanity, as I realized just what a monumental task I had gotten myself into. Suffice it to say that this project has grown far beyond what I ever anticipated. Several man-years of development have gone into developing this site, as well as substantial sums of money for hosting and hardware. Which brings us to the second question:
Simply put, because it should be free. Inventors, IP professionals, students, and many other people need fast accurate access to patent data. This data, and the ability to search it effectively, goes to the very core of scientific progress. People and companies need to know what has been previously patented for several reasons. These reasons include knowing if a "new" invention is actually new, avoiding infringing upon someone else's intellectual property rights, and staying up-to-date on the latest developments in a given field of technology.
But, despite the fact that such information is crucial to scientific progress (and the commercialization of new scientific advancements -- which is really where the benefit to the public, the economy, and the whole country, comes from), searching this data quickly and thoroughly is nearly impossible for free, and still an iffy, time-consuming proposition even with the best commercial services (which, while affordable by large corporations, are not affordable for individual inventors or university researchers). That shouldn't be the way it is, and if no one else is going to do it, I'm going to change that. It's my way of giving back to the many communities that have given to me, including the open source software community, and the research community (I should mention that I am also a biologist, and as a biologist I firmly believe that, to quote Newton, we are "standing on the shoulders of giants").
Now you know why I am doing this for free, but what about how I can do it for free? Well, first of all, I've paid for a lot of the site expenses out of my own pocket, and I don't necessarily expect these costs to be reimbursed. These expenses got us a sophisticated group of load-balanced servers to run the site, and we've got power to spare right now. I also did all the initial development myself, so while it took a lot of time, it didn't cost me anything. With respect to ongoing expenses such as additional development work and hosting, I now have banner advertising on the site and this is enabling the site to pay for itself. So, in short, the site is not going out of business. In fact, it will only continue to improve as time and funding permits (massive improvements are underway with respect to the search functions, the amount of data we have, and several other aspects of the site).
Also, I should mention that we do offer some commercial services. We provide the backend search functionality for some third-party patent searching software, do consulting work, and produce custom data sets for researchers interested in things like demographic trends in patents over time. This activity allows us to fund more development that will benefit our site users, so if you know of anyone that needs such services, spread the word! And, if you are a web master, or know one, add a link to the site!
The long term plans for the site are very ambitious. Eventually the site will have patent data from around the world, work-flow functions, the most powerful search ability of any patent site on the web, and other features which are very powerful, and very exciting, but too premature to discuss right now.
Thanks to everyone who has helped make the site such a success so far. Stay tuned!
Original Location: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/search.html
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