Case study: Basic principles — Google glasses

AmberScope is a patent searching engine developed by Ambercite, in close cooperation with patent attorneys Griffith Hack, and able to find patents that may be missed by existing patent search processes.

AmberScope is introduced in this video, but how well does AmberScope work in practice?

In this short case study, we introduce some basic search features in AmberScope, namely the ability to review individual patents, and to refocus the network on the more relevant patents.

In 2013 Google acquired three patents owned by Motion Research Technologies, and covering a pair of glasses for augmented vision. These patents included US7631968, filed in 2007, and which disclose a pair of glasses looking similar to this:

The claims of the patent cover the concept of the displayed image being controlled by the movement of the glasses. The granted patent includes a list of prior art documents, but did the examiner for this patent find all of the relevant prior art?

This is where AmberScope can help. The image below shows what happens if we run a search for this patent US7631968 (‘968) in AmberScope.

Google glasses patent as focus of patent network

Each dot represents a patent, with the dot surrounded by the red circle being ‘968, which was the ‘focus’ patent of this patent network. All of the patents connected to the ‘968 patent are shown, and these are represented in a light grey colour.

Some other features are:

  • Blue lines show backward citations, and green lines forward citations.
  • The size of the dots represent its AmberScore rating. AmberScore is a proprietary algorithm that considers the influence of the patent in the network. In the image above, the ‘968 patent is shown with an AmberScore value of 0.24. This is lower than average — the average granted US patent over the last 20 years has an AmberScore value of 1.
  • Thicker lines show stronger connections between two patents.
  • The question mark in the patent box shows that the patent has not yet been rated by the user. AmberScope includes the facilities to capture ‘personal ratings’ on any patent, and this can be very handy for future referral. Currently, patents can be rated from 0 to 2.
  • The image also shows some of the highly rated patents that are connected to the patents that are connected to the ‘968 patent. These indirectly connected patents could be regarded as influential ‘friends of friends’. We refer to these patents as ‘ghost’ patents, and they are mostly shown as greyed out in this case. Ghost patents can easily be identified as patents with connection lines overlying them

as opposed to the connection lines hidden behind the dots, which shows a directly connected patent

Ghost patents can be very valuable, as these can disclose inventions that were not considered by the patent examiner (otherwise they would be listed in the search report) but still may be relevant.

But are these connected patents relevant to the ‘968 patent? ‘Personal ratings’ are just that, and so I went though and rated all of the connected patents, Figure 2. This also changed the colour of the dots, and the details of each patent rated are moved across to the table to the right after they have been rated.

Google patent network with ratings added

In this figure, green patents are not thought to be relevant, blue patents are potentially relevant patents that are directly connected, and purple patents are potentially relevant ghost patents.

What do these patents disclose? The different patents all disclose different inventions, but one of the more interesting connected patents is US6349001, shown below, and which discloses:

An eyeglass interface system is provided which integrates interface systems within eyewear. The system includes a display assembly and one or more audio and/or video assemblies mounted to an eyeglass frame

This is a relatively influential patent, with an AmberScore of 13, in other words 13 times as influential as the average granted US patent.

Patent summary box for US6349001

So already, AmberScope has shown its potential to find potentially relevant patents, even if in this case the examiner had also identified this patent as relevant prior art (hence the direct citation connection). But AmberScope includes another feature that can also assist in finding relevant prior art, namely the ability to ‘walk the net’ , or refocus the patent network on any patent. This can be done as easily as selecting the ‘more’ button in the patent box as shown below. In this particular case, the button reads "178 more", which means that besides the connection between the ‘9001 patent and the ‘968 patent we started with, there are 178 other citation connections to this ‘9001 patent.

Refocusing on US6349001

Selecting this ‘more’ button refocuses the patent network to be recentered on US6349001, allowing you to see it 178 direct connections, as well as its ghost patent connections.

US6349001 as centre of patent network

Note that some of these patents are already coloured in yellow (the patent has been viewed), blue or purple This is because these patents were also seen in the network focused on the ‘968 patent, and AmberScope that remembered your previous ratings for these patents and transferred these ratings across. Practically, this means that you do not have to review these patents again, and instead can focus on the ‘new’ patents, which are coloured in grey.

But are any of these patents relevant to the Google glasses patent? To do this, we need to review the individual patent nodes - luckily this does not take that long within the AmberScope interface. As we do this, one of the more interesting patents we find is US5585871, which discloses:

A display apparatus secured to a temple or bridge contacting portion of an eyewear, the apparatus including means for monitoring the wearer’s heart rate, lap position, laps completed, time elapsed, etc. An image of the collected data is transmitted into the wearer’s field of view by means of a fiber optic element and projected at a focal point within the focusing range of the wearer’s eyes.

This is not exactly the same as the Google glasses patent, but does include the element of augmented vision. Hence we have identified a second means of finding patents relevant to a starting patent.

Patent summary box for US5585871

Which is also potentially relevant.

But so are many of the ‘ghost’ patents that were shown when the network was focused on the ‘968 patent, for example US6091546, which discloses:

A display apparatus secured to a temple or bridge contacting portion of an eyewear, the apparatus including means for monitoring the wearer’s heart rate, lap position, laps completed, time elapsed, etc. An image of the collected data is transmitted into the wearer’s field of view by means of a fiber optic element and projected at a focal point within the focusing range of the wearer’s eyes.

This is an influential patent, with an AmberScore of 17 and 189 further connections. This is a third way of identifying relevant patents.

Patent summary box for US6091546

Ghost patents can also be used to refocus the network, which is what we have done below:

US6091546  as centre of patent network

And when we do so, some of the new patents that we find when browsing this network may also be relevant to the ‘946 patent, for example US5719588, which discloses:

A viewing device for receiving video signals and generating corresponding images for viewing comprising a frame or support, adapted to be worn on the user’s head, for example, a frame similar to a spectacle frame


Patent summary box for US5719588

So we have a fourth way of finding potentially relevant prior art, namely finding patents connected to ghost patents. And of course, we could make any of the patent in the new graph a focus patent, and continue to ‘walk the net’ , and search for more relevant patents.


In this short discussion, we have shown how it is possible to find potentially relevant prior art, some of it missed by the patent examiner, simply by starting with the patent number you are concerned about. This potentially relevant prior art could be:

  • directly connected patents (US6349001 in this example)
  • patents connected to directly connected patents (US5585871)
  • ghost patents (US6091546)
  • patents connected to ghost patents (‘friends of friends of friends’, or US5719588 in this example)
  • These different mechanisms are summarised in the diagram below.

These different mechanisms are summarised in the diagram below.

And if you don’t have a suitable starting patent, you could conduct a simple search for a start patent by running a simple conventional patent search for a starting patent which is close, but not close enough, to what you are looking for.

It is also worth considering what we have not done in this search:

  • We have not looked at any keywords or semantic terms. Different patent applicants can use different keywords for the same concepts, and this can cause errors when searching for patents using keywords.
  • We have not looked at any IPC or USPTO patent codes, which can be imprecise or incorrect
  • We have not spent hours and hours looking long lists of patents, many of them irrelevant. Instead we have relied on the power of citation networks to quickly identify relevant prior art, some of which appear to have been missed by the original patent examiner.

And yet in this short demonstration we are only using part of the capability of AmberScope. Other case studies will discuss these other capabilities and how they can assist you in finding relevant patents.

Postscript: comparison of keyword and patent codes in the patents found in this search

This is also a good demonstration of how searching using keywords and patent codes could give you misleading results.

 I spent two days looking for a relevant patent for a client using a conventional search. The second patent took me 30 minutes to find with AmberScope.

R. W., Patent Attorney at Griffith Hack

 I can not appreciate more how much work and time this program has saved us. Its capability to analyse all possible relevant patents in accordance to timeline, key words and other means are a great filtering tool. The degree of relevance highlighted by the thickness and type of arrows are even more helpful in eventually pinpointing a possible IP area to target the new technology.

Kishan Nawzidh, Monash University

 I was able to uncover significantly more patents that were relevant to my topic, ... much more quickly than when compared to a text based site. I found the graphical representation very intuitive and easy to use. It also opened up relevant areas that I would not have otherwise considered.

Mechanical Engineering Consultant, Planet Innovation.

 I was looking for a prior art patent to invalidate a granted patent that was blocking a client’s product coming to market. I had tried a conventional patent search, and even a conventional citation search, but without luck. So I ran the search in AmberScope – and by exploring the visual links was able to find a prior art patent that essentially discloses the blocking patent. My client is now in a much better position to bring a product to market. Once again, AmberScope has found prior art missed by other searching techniques.

Gennaro Simonetta – Patent attorney, IP consultant and former patent examiner – Griffith Hack

 I recently used Ambercite for a novelty search and got a knock-out hit in less than half an hour. Even though, we generally use other platforms for searches I have to admit once you use Ambercite, you can't go back to anything else. Keep up the good work!

Andy.M., Australian Patent Attorney

 "I represent [X] in their case against [Y]. I was thoroughly impressed by your analysis of the [Y] patents.

Andy.M., James Maune, US Patent Attorney at Orrick