The Silicon Review
“If our clients have ideas about how we can further help them, we will do so. Even if the benefit is focused on a particular vertical market segment.”
Innovation is the linchpin for every business in today’s competitive industry. Patents are granted for innovations across all industries to provide incentives and protection to firms by offering them a monopolyon their invention for a set period of time. Patents are obligatorily published so that details of the invention can be recognised and built upon. This accelerates the mutually beneficial spread of knowledge. These original inventions can be evolved within the same industry or in some cases aspects can be taken and applied elsewhere. An excellent example of a patent describing a technology to solve one problem that can be repurposed for an entirely different scenario is a white, reflective coating that can be applied to road surfaces, roofs or walkways to combat rising temperatures in cities. This technology was originally developed to hide spy planes from satellite infrared camera technologies!
Minesoft is an innovative online patent solutions provider offering its products and services to national patent offices, professional search firms, patent attorney firms, academic institutions and many Fortune 500/FTSE 100 companies around the world. Established in 1996, Minesoft quickly gained market traction due to its innovative patent information products. Since then the company has established its offices in the UK, Germany, and the USA – with additional agents representing every corner of the globe.
Ann Chapman, Minesoft Co-founder and Managing Director, spoke exclusively to
The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Rewind: Taking the Flight
Minesoft is a family-run business started as an ideal way to combine both Ann Chapman’s and her husband Ophir’s skills. Her career was blossoming in the online publishing industry, managing and directing companies in the field of published patents, sci-tech, and business information whilst Ophir was an in-demand web-based developer working in the early internet era. Initially, they worked closely with Questel-Orbit for about five years in marketing, sales and product development before branching out with their own products in the first decade of 2000. In 2003, they began close cooperation with RWS PLC, a publicly quoted UK specialist translation company and one of the biggest corporate translation companies in the world today. Together, they built a searchable patent database, PatBase, that now hosts about 135 million patent documents from 106 jurisdictions and has since gone on to attract over 80,000 users worldwide.
The company has since then expanded its portfolio of innovative patent information products to include PatBase Express, Patent Order, PatDocs, IPShare, Legal StatusTracker, CiteTracker, Chemical Explorer, Pat-KM, and PatBase Analytics.
Moreover, Minesoft is a two-time recipient of the prestigious ‘Queen’s Award for Enterprise’ (2009 and 2015) for outstanding achievement in rapidly growing export markets in the field of Intellectual Property (patent) Information. In 2018, the company was awarded ‘Best Business’, and Ann Chapman named ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year’ at a regional business award ceremony in South West London.
Going Above and Beyond
As the number of user types across the IP lifecycle has multiplied over the years, so has the need for the flexibility of search and analytics platforms with respect to functionality and usability. In the past, only the more specialised databases and access portals such as Orbit, Dialog or STN – or Genios and GBI in Germany - enabled sophisticated and experienced users to manipulate input queries in the hope that they could then decipher the vast amount of data available.
Today, all manner of users want easy-to-query databases and the ability to seamlessly create everything from board-level presentations to detailed invalidity reports. Search and analytics features need to allow users to quickly go from initial query to intelligent graphical output, just as easily as creating search results ready to submit to worldwide patent offices. “We have worked to constantly develop our platforms to enable both professional searchers and business executives to quickly gain the ability to answer business-critical questions in the timeliest manner. Search platforms should be built for users, by users, irrespective of what background these user communities have.” Minesoft strives to strike the balance between development cycles while listening to clients’ feedback. “We have benefitted from great user feedback. High-tech countries like USA and Germany have played a big part in this continual development and improvement of our products. We have big markets in USA and Northern Europe and hold many constructive discussions and beta tests with our clients based there.”
An example of how Minesoft develops products is in vertical-specific tool modification. For instance, it has developed tools for users in the biotech, chemical, and life sciences area which range from the automation of text extraction and association, to the ability to easily draw chemical structures for search input. “If our clients have ideas about how we can further help them, we will do so. Even if the benefit is focused on a particular vertical market segment.”
“Minesoft is in good shape and we have a great team around us to take the company further and faster in the up coming years. We are developing a new Search Engine that should be released later this year and we will continue working on it in the following few years to develop some neat new functionality in areas like natural language searching and semantics. We will also develop the area of automated translations and landscaping analysis. Artificial Intelligence is a big buzzword in the Online Publishing Industry at present and we are designing new ideas in this area to further automate and streamline our products. We host about 125 million patent (sci-tech) documents right now and this is increasing literally every week. Such a large body of research material needs to be made accessible to companies who are working to pioneer new solutions. Search speeds are getting exponentially faster and the computer industry and data delivery mechanisms (including the Internet) are developing rapidly too. In hindsight, we chose an ideal moment in ‘technology time’ to set up Minesoft. We foresee a great future.”
“In the coming 10 years, Ophir and I will continue to travel widely and help develop new technologies for the future – we are looking forward to spending much time both sides of the Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas.”
For more information go to