Article One Partners, or AOP for short, is the world’s largest patent research community. Yesterday the company announced a partnership with Sony Corporation. AOP is supporting Sony’s defense against the rising trend in patent disputes with non-practicing entities (NPEs).
“We have chosen to expand our prior art research capabilities with Article One Partners and their global community of researchers,” said Fumihiko Moriya, VP, Sr. General Manager, IP Alliance & Licensing Dept., IP Division, Sony Corporation. “Our partnership with Article One enables Sony to identify highly relevant prior art to help defend against an increasing number of low-quality patent assertions.”
Beginning in 2008, Article One Partners set out to create a crowd sourcing alternative to find the most difficult to locate prior art — non-patent literature. Frequently non-patent literature is the hardest to locate but the most relevant to determine whether a claimed innovation is in fact patentable.
“With Article One, we quickly identify high quality prior art which complements our traditional approach,” says Bart Eppenauer, Microsoft, Chief Patent Counsel. “Their research community has helped identify high quality non-patent literature that our Microsoft team found useful for settling disputes. We are very pleased with the results we are getting from Article One.”
The AOP model is to attract highly skilled, professional researches from around the globe to sign up to receive information on patent studies. When a new study is started they send the information to their network of researchers, which numbers more than 1 million researchers. Prize money is awarded in the form of a “reward” for the closest prior art located.
The AOP model has been enormously successful. Companies use AOP services when they are in litigation or contemplating filing a reexamination at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the company has expanded to provide researchers tools and training, and they are now also doing searches for those who are not seeking to invalidate patent claims. Imagine the argument in federal court if you could say that an exhaustive prior art search was conducted by Article One Partners, with over 1 million skilled researchers, many with highly advanced degrees, and the most relevant prior art located doesn’t render the claim unpatentable. A powerful argument for sure.
Over the years AOP has reached milestone after milestone. In March 2011, Article One announced that they had just awarded an amount that put them over $1 million in reward money paid. See Article One Reaches $1 Million Milestone. By February 2012, AOP reached the $2 million threshold. See Crowdsourcing Patent Research: $2 Million in Reward Money. They are already over $2.9 million, so they will soon announce breaking the $3 million threshold in reward money issued.
Article One Partners (AOP) has revolutionized the transparency of patent data, and was an industry leader in crowdsourcing. Frankly, Article One Partners was a leader in crowdsourcing, period. They have been extraordinarily effective, and count among their growing client base 16 out of the Fortune 100, as well as 13 of the top 20 companies involved in mobile technology patent wars, 18 of the Top 25 companies most pursued by NPEs, and 7 of the Top 10 US Patent filing companies.
“Article One adds a new dimension to prior art searching by making use of a community of experts around the world,” says Ruud Peters, Executive VP & Chief IP Officer at Philips IP&S. “This innovative way of crowdsourcing contributes to the improvement of the quality of the patent system. Being a member for almost a year, we at Philips are already experiencing the benefits of the Article One approach, as the community of experts came up with relevant prior art that we did not identify by ourselves.”
The company has distributed requests for prior art research to more than one million scientists and technologists using a global online human search engine. AOP is active in more than 180 countries, presents search requests in 10 languages and is exceptionally successful in identifying key foreign language evidence, non-textual and non-patent literature.