Comparing Specialized Patent Search Firms and Crowdsourced Searching Services

In recent years, many new services have appeared offering crowdsourced patent searches. Essentially, the search is listed as a competition where anyone may submit search results in hopes of winning the cash prize. Sometimes the search competition requires the searcher to have particular skills or knowledge, but generally the searchers receive no training and are not required to perform their searches according to a particular search philosophy and/or standard. In contrast, specialized search firms, such as Sherman Patent Search Group, invest significant training in their teams to ensure high quality results and expect the searchers to adhere to a well-developed search philosophy. Another difference is that crowdsourced searches operate by individual searchers competing against each other. Search firms, on the other hand, often assign multiple searchers to a search to ensure as comprehensive coverage of the field as possible. Finally, to increase the chance of finding perfect prior art, crowdsourced searches often take as much as six weeks to complete. SPSG, however, is often able to accommodate clients needing results much sooner. Although some searches are suitable to crowdsourcing, complex, urgent searches may be more appropriate for specialized search firms such as SPSG.

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