This was our first visit to an EPOPIC. We had done some consultancy work in the patent area and thought that our methodologies and presentation style would be of interest to the patent search community, so decided to go and ask them. In general the answer appears to be "Yes".
We attended Discussion Group 7, Freedom-to-operate, and were pleased to note at the outset that three items on the wish list of the questionnaire were met by our program, ability to highlight search phrases instead of only words, ability to save users' highlighting of text in descriptions and claims, and mumti-screen viewing to compare documents or parts of a document.
The discussion group was run in such a way that each table of 7 tackled 2 of the 5 assignments set by the chair, Susanne Hantos. As the designated note taker I had the privilege of hearing 12 professionals giving their take on the problems of handling a) geographical scope and b) inventions versus designs with great clarity and organisation in a time frame of 20 minutes for each team of 6.
From the conference as a whole it became clear that FTO was a very hard search task but equally a vitally important one for companies to ensure that their R&D efforts were geared towards products that had a chance of making it to market. It was also clear that, although there had been huge advances in machine translation, this was still an area where their was a lack of confidence in the accuracy of the current tools, particularly over extended passages.
As CFL works in both the document comparison area and multilingual concordancing we think we should be able to make further contributions to the power and accuracy of FTO search tools.