The cool thing about getting old is that you spend enough time in a community to meet some really interesting people. These neighbors can be on your street or in your profession. The people you meet in engineering are a big part of what makes the job fun.
As it happens, Stanko Valeta is one of these people. Stanko recently invited me to lunch to give me a personal tour of a web-based patent analysis tool he created. It's always fun to listen to someone with passion for an idea, a project or a product. Stanko has created his PatentCut site out of love for an idea. Or perhaps more to the point, out of frustration with both free and commercial tools that were out there. As Stanko wasted time using the existing and inefficient tools out there, he decided he needed to do something.
There's always a tipping point -- especially for software designers -- where you know that even a relatively big up front investment is going to reap dividends in time saved down the road. I am someone who is always searching for better tools -- especially in the patent analysis space. Without the software know-how of a guy like Stanko, I just had to put up with many (trust me, many) bad choices out there - both widely available free types like the USPTO's own database interface and Google's to expensive commercial subscriptions. The frustrations were even worse with the purpose-built, proprietary software tools I've had the misfortune to use in previous lives as well.
Two things will strike you about patentCut as soon as you begin to use it. First is that it is extremely light weight. It is designed with the user in mind with no unnecessary clutter, frills (or ads at present). Stanko places a high premium on his own screen real estate and by offering his tool freely to other users, we all benefit. Second, you get the most important information sorted in priority sequence for a patent-savvy practitioner who needs to find things out fast.
The underlying programming and organization of the tool repeat the lightweight feel of the interface. This tool is fast. It is several times faster than the USPTO and a significant margin faster than Google Patents which opens some graphics on its patent overview page.
The best way to understand this new tool is to try it. If it looks different at first, that's because it is very different at its core. But this is because patentCut has better functionality than what you are used to. There are many features you will get to and too many to itemize in this post. The best way to get an idea of the detailed capabilties is to visit patentcut.com and check out the series of 12 links to the right side of the search box that explain the major features in more detail. This is not completely polished as this software is being rolled out for the first time. Be patient as you look through the belp boxes and explanations.
The main benefits of patentCut are obvious as you begin to use it. Some of its less apparent gems require some patience to discover based on the present state of the tutorials. Right now, Stanko is spending his time on eliminating bugs and ensuring the site works on as many platforms as possible and communicates seamlessly with the major patent datbases from the USPTO to Espacenet. New features are getting rolled out too, so it leaves little time for one software developer in his spare time to have the most accessible tutorial help that we may be used to from the software giants. But I think you will agree that patentCut beats many of the big boys where it really matters.