|Monty Hyams (1918-2013): Patent Information Pioneer||home||intro||derwent||personal||downloads||links|
data scores for longevity, subject-scope and global range. But at least
as prized is the value added to the public domain information
by a team of specialist abstractors and indexers. All of the following
originated under Monty's leadership (1951-84) in the first two cases
initiated by him in person.
Enhanced titles: Right from the start, Monty improved on the often vague and unhelpful titles of the original documents, so as to make them more easy to scan and comprehend. This developed over time into two-part titles: first describing the invention, then its novelty. For example: Oil sealed pump for gas circuit of gas laser – pumps gas through catalytic converter and oil filter associated with pump to remove oil from gas flow.
Informative abstracts: Monty's original selling point was concise summaries in language as plain as the technical content would permit. This was hugely useful in an era when access to the original document typically took days. Now that full-text is rapidly available online but there is so much of it, informative abstracts valuably reduce 'information overload.' "To this day," an independent reviewer has suggested, "the shorter, yet more precise excerpts written by human indexers to clarify patent content may still yield important prior art that would never have been found using the same keywords in a full text database."
Subject indexing: During the period 1963-80, Derwent's work expanded to cover the range of science and technology visible here. A proprietary coding system was established on a hierarchical basis so that searches could be made at different levels of specificity. Around 17,000 indexing terms arose within the chemical and electrical realms. "Derwent Manual Codes are assigned by a small, highly trained pool of Thomson employees, whereas IPC codes are assigned by staff with variable levels of expertise and training in patent offices around the world," is how that same reviewer puts it.
Coding of chemical structures: The Derwent Fragmentation Code was instituted with Farmdoc in 1963, to describe both specific and generic chemical compounds disclosed in the patent documents. Users could eventually search for any of approximately 2,2000 numerical codes corresponding to a structure fragment. The prime mover on this extremely important aspect of Derwent's work was Peter Norton, who remained the lead during subsequent iterations of chemical coding.
Patent family enhancement: Specialist indexers group patent documents into Derwent 'families' based on related content, "thereby de-duplicating the searching effort while ensuring that no distantly related patents are accidentally lumped together in a single family". From the outset the way this was achieved differed from the more rudimentary and automated methods of other patent databases.
Examples and quotations have been taken from the 2010 in-depth review of DWPI by Intellogist.
In summary: All of these value-added aspects arose in Monty's era. Via specialist online services, they enabled sophisticated searching both of DWPI alone and on a 'cross-file' basis of databases from elsewhere. Then, after Monty's time, they underpinned integration with other Thomson Reuters sources using a Web front-end.