Top 4 1/2 Takeaways from the Article One Partners Researcher Webinar

I like nice round numbers as much as anyone, but I since I have a 2a, I couldn’t really say that there are five items on the list.  OCD, thou art my middle name.

Article One Partners hosted a webinar today for its researcher community.  I’m not a member of said community, but I signed up anyway.  Because I was beaten as a child raised by highly conscientious parents, I asked if it was OK for me to be there and they said yes so I stayed.  Paranoia, though art my other middle name.

So here’s what I took away:

1.  AOP now offers non-monetary rewards for good research.  This is huge, because not everyone is motivated by money alone.  In fact, it’s been my personal experience coming from the software development world that if you tell a programmer he can have $10,000 or his name listed on the credits for the app, he’d take the later.  It’s all about the “atta boy!”  I think this shows that Article One understands their crowd and how to motivate them.

2.  High volume, low value is a problem.  When it comes to submitting research for prior art, it is more important to be right than to be copious.  I think the slide deck said not to “throw things at the wall and see what sticks”.  In Texas, we call it the “spray and pray” approach, in reference to using a shotgun to hunt.  Lots of little balls go out, maybe one hits and maybe it doesn’t.  That’s fine if all you want is a little quail for dinner (with apologies to any vegetarian/non-hunting readers).  But if you want the good stuff you need a .22 rifle with good aim.  Ditto research.  Make it good, they said!

2a.  With respect to #2, as I understand it they rely on an “in-scope percentage” to award researchers with points.  A certain percentage of your submitted work must be rated by the reviewers as “in-scope” relevant to the client’s request.  This is what iStockPhoto does for it’s exclusive  contributors, such as {ahem} yours truly.  You can become an exclusive contributor, which yields higher royalties, after meeting certain criteria.  But even after that, you must maintain an approval rating of newly-uploaded photos that exceeds (I believe) 85%.  Just because you made it into the exclusive club, you have to work to stay there.  This is a good thing because it keeps the quality of photos high, and it keeps the number of bad photos submitted to the review queue down to a minimum.

3.  Researchers want access to the AOP database.  This is interesting, Big Data is a thing of mine.  I like to work with databases and got my programming start in database design.  Five normal forms, anyone?  I can see the dilemma they have though.  Massive amounts of research data and client data and internal data means that putting a searchable front-end on that for researchers would be costly and time-consuming.  Besides which, you’d have to ghost the data nightly because you definitely don’t want people in your live databases.  My suggestion, post webinar, was to create some sort of mini-download portal online whereby researchers could filter the data they want from available fields, and then download it in .txt or .csv format.  They could pull that subset of data into a local database and work with it to their heart’s content.   Win-win!

4.  Partial credit counts.  Again, this is my understanding from the webinar, but it seems that submitting research that is only partially relevant to the final outcome of a search request is rewarded.  Surely patents are not invalidated on the basis of prior art based on one single smoking gun.  It takes a whole set of evidence, I would imagine, to get the point across.  By rewarding people who get close to the mark or who contribute to a group of people who collectively hit the nail on the head, it encourages people to submit prior art that is “close”, #2 above notwithstanding.

The work that Article One is doing is such an important piece of the patent troll problem.  One way to stop the proliferation of these nonsense lawsuits is to invalidate bad patents.  Hit them at the heart of the matter.  And with now 27,000 researchers worldwide on the job?  Let’s just say some folks had better watch out!

Just sayin’,


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