"Next-Generation" Federated Search: Critical for Intellectual Property Research

Computers in Libraries, June 2009 | Go to article overview

"Next-Generation" Federated Search: Critical for Intellectual Property Research


Overview

Next-generation federated search technologies are quickly becoming an essential and indispensable tool for attorneys, paralegals, expert witnesses, and owners of IP to create, protect, monitor and litigate their intellectual property portfolios.

Such technology provides a significant advantage over traditional forms of search, because it greatly speeds research; helps ensure a more comprehensive search; provides real-time results; can include social networking information from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others; and most importantly, keeps researchers apprised of new material on a daily basis.

Classical Dilemma in Intellectual Property

Perhaps you've heard of the litigator's nightmare: the lead attorney says "Your Honor, no one has done this before," just before the opposing counsel says, "That's interesting. Your Honor, I have with me proof that this has not only been done before, but that it has been well documented in a respected, peer-reviewed trade journal."

Aside from losing credibility with the judge, an attorney loses credibility with the client. And, in the world of intellectual property, such a mistake could cost dearly.

The dilemma arises when attorneys and other researchers balance cost and time, with the need for a comprehensive and complete search.

This isn't just important in the context of the courtroom. It's important in all aspects of intellectual property: whether attempting to evaluate new brand name options, ascertaining whether to commit a significant budget to a scientific research effort, identifying a solution to a particularly challenging problem, or to simply make sure someone isn't infringing (or disparaging) your brand, technology, patent or copyright.

Abstracts versus Full-Text Search

Many researchers will search on arcane search terms, such as a particular chemical or technology, with the hope that results will be very focused, with few false-positives. The problem is, most comprehensive search mechanisms don't perform a full-text search: Instead, they are performing a search on the title, some key fields in the metadata, and an abstract. If the arcane search term isn't contained within those fields, they miss potentially important documents.

Only next-generation federated search helps ensure your search includes the entire text of articles. Therefore, the latest "unified indexing" tools being proffered by some content aggregators cannot truly deliver what is needed in the IP context: a guarantee that documents containing the search terms haven't been missed.

Next-generation federated search, by conducting a real-time search with key collections, will always provide a greater chance of finding that all-important needle-in-a-haystack, without introducing a lot of noise.

Next-Generation Federated Search

The next-generation in federated search resolves three major concerns with traditional federated search: speed, research effectiveness and information overload.

In the age of Google, anyone performing research has come to expect immediate results, and quickly becomes impatient when results take more than 5 to 10 seconds. The next-generation in federated search provides rapid response, and keeps chugging to fold-in results from slower collections, as they come in.

As it relates to research effectiveness, traditional federated search technologies dummy-down capabilities and results, to the least common denominator. In layman's terms, this means that traditional federated search platforms would limit search operators to what is minimally acceptable across all collections being searched. Similarly, as it relates to results, they would only rank and display those fields supported by all collections.

Next-generation federated search turns this on its head, using advanced technology to support the most advanced features and best results when possible, working individually with each collection to make the best use of their individual capabilities. …

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