Saturday, January 31, 2004

Patently Obvious

For years there have been online US patent databases that have had arcane interfaces, usually presenting the information in the form of TIFF files. I've spent quite a few hours converting TIFFs into more readable (and more compact) formats when my studies intersect existing patents. Finally there is a useful online tool that automates this process: enter a patent number at Pat2PDF, and it will generate a PDF file on the fly. Now my favorite patents (d437255, 5323867, and 4840394, for the record) are accessible from anywhere.

(Yes, I have favorite patents. Don't you?)

If you use the US Patent Office's website to view patents, Pat2PDF has even got a bookmarklet you can put on your toolbar that will autogenerate a PDF from the patent you are viewing without requiring you to switch sites.