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Patent Office to Make Data More Accessible

More patent data!
APIs provide access
Tool for inventors

In a March 31, 2016 speech at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee announced the Patent Office will be releasing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to open up the patent office’s data set to anyone who would like to access it. In her speech Lee said,

Anyone with even the most basic programming experience will be able to explore our data according to their own interests, curiosity and business needs. This makes it easier for innovators—from researchers to entrepreneurs to well-established companies—to mine this data, helping to inform where they spend their limited research and development resources, and providing a much more detailed view of the competitive landscape than previously available. If you think about it, one of the first things an innovator does after an invention is file for a patent, so the USPTO data can provide very current information of the competitive landscape.

She also announced the creation of the “USPTO Open Data Portal,” a developer’s hub and social sharing platform for people in the community:

This unique forum will not only leverage the power of the crowd to unlock our data to answer questions about trends in technology and innovation but it also functions as a forum so users of our hub can provide input to the USPTO on other types of data sets we should release.

These are positive moves that will benefit the innovation community. Without the APIs, only big companies, such as Google, that have the resources to “scrape” the information on the patent office website, have the ability to access the data to be able to manipulate it. Other companies have done this kind of scraping to create products that they sell to the patent and R&D community. The release of the APIs will foster more sharing of information and a much greater ability to manipulate data to find particular technologies of interest.

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