This is a very short and simplified introduction to the patent lifecycle which should also clarify the various XML documents corresponding to a patent in the CLEF-IP collection.
The content of this page is based on a presentation made by F. Piroi at CLEF 2010.
The concept of a patent can be defined as follows: "A patent is a set of exclusive legal rights for the use and exploitation of an invention in exchange for its public disclosure".
A patent is a set of legal documents by which a governing authority, through its patent office, grants a set of exclusive rights for exploitation [of the invention] for a limited number of years, usually 20.
First, write down a document that describes the background of the invention, a description, and a set of claims to specify what exactly the patent should protect.
The level of details of each of the document parts vary depending on the patent office.
The claims are a legal piece of text, therefore it is usual to get the help of a patent attorney to draft them. This is also the reason why the description and the background of the invention are written in a narrative way, while the claims are written in "attornish".
This document, when registered with a patent office, is called an Application Document. The registration date is known as the Application Date.
In a certain period of time, from the Application Date, the patent application is examined by professionals at the patent office. There are many criteria to be fulfilled by an application before it can be granted a patent: is the invetion novel? is there an inventive step? is it realizable?
The novelty search (a.k.a. the 'Prior Art Search') is the most time consuming and expensive part of the application examination.
The result of a Prior Art Search is a list of relevant documents stored into a Search Report. The relevant documents are called patent citations. (Note the different meaning of the word 'citation' compared to the academic publications.)
After the examination phase, a series of official communications between the applicant and the patent office takes place. As an output of these communications claims are usually modified in order not to infringe existing patents. Quite often, patent applications are withdrawn.
When the patent office takes the decision to grant a patent, a Granted Patent Document is published.
Three kinds of patent documents were presented here:
Files in the CLEF-IP collection are named using the following schema:
WO|EP-<numerical_id>-<kind_code>.xmlwhere the <numerical_id> is a unique identifier given to the EP or WO patent, and the <kind_code> can be A1, A2, A3, ..., B1, B2, ...