I had an interesting an informative (if internet-free) day at the PaIR workshop at CIKM today. One the highlights was a keynote by Marti Hearst, who is currently the Chief IT Strategist for the USPTO. She outlined many improvements to the the USPTO IT infrastructure that are in the works, scheduled for rollout some time in 2013.
It was interesting to hear the details of the user-centered design process that she is orchestrating to understand the limitations of the existing tools and to guide the redesign with input from patent examiners and supervisors. Some of the planned improvements include a unified interface to various functions that are currently not well-integrated, automated suggestions for queries and terms of art for applications being reviewed, the ability to tag, annotate and share annotations on all sorts of documents, the ability to search over all material (including the annotations), etc.
I also asked her about the deal with Google that has Google distributing patents, and in particular about the fact that only one week’s worth of patents were available for 2010. Well, it turns out that was a glitch between the two organizations, and as of this week, that glitch is resolved. So I am happy to report that as of this writing, 42 weeks’ worth of patents for 2010 are available on the Google patents page.