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Discovering Unconventional Prior Art

Case Study October 05, 2023 nan

At Expertlancing, we perform complex prior-art searches daily, but occasionally, we encounter cases that provide truly remarkable experiences and insights. One such case involved an invalidation search for a European patent related to motion vector prediction techniques in the video encoding/decoding domain.

Understanding the Challenge

Our journey began by thoroughly understanding the invention and the associated file history documents to assess the novelty of the claimed invention. Identifying relevant keywords, classifications, and prominent assignees/inventors was our next step. It's worth noting that the terminology used in patents can differ significantly from that in other documents like journals, white papers, or research articles. Thus, compiling a precise set of relevant terms/keywords was crucial.

Crafting the Search Strategy:

Our search strategy started with the use of narrower terms (hyponyms) for a targeted search, followed by synonyms and then broader terms (hypernyms). Our analysis was specifically directed at the novel feature of the independent claim - a decoder calculating a motion vector predictor (MVP) for the current block from the MVP candidates stored in an MVP candidate list buffer, where one MVP candidate is a motion vector of a non-adjacent block, and the non-adjacent block is non-adjacent to the current block of the current picture. We compiled a nomenclature table including synonyms, hypernyms, and hyponyms to guide our search vocabulary. For instance, the keyword "Non-adjacent" was associated with synonyms like non-neighbouring, non-neighboring, non-successive, non-contiguous, non-immediate, farther, remote, and distant.

Thinking Outside the Box

Many patent databases highlight keywords used in search strings. However, in this particular case, the term "non-adjacent" wasn't explicitly highlighted in the results. Our researcher took an unconventional approach by not only reviewing highlighted keywords but also examining figures/images within the references. This unique strategy led to the discovery of a reference mentioning the term "next knight's order" in the context of a chess knight piece move. Although "non-adjacent" wasn't directly mentioned, it was explained in relation to the chess knight's move.

Success and Conclusion

Ultimately, we identified a Category X reference closely aligned with the inventive step and published before the effective filing date of the target patent. This reference disclosed a method for determining the motion vector predictor of the current block using a non-adjacent block. Notably, it introduced a unique term, "Knight's order processing," within a quad row, resembling a chess knight's move, providing spacing between adjacent blocks in the pipeline. In conclusion, prior-art searches are multifaceted challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for finding strong results. As IP researchers, it's vital to maintain a broad technological perspective and recognize concepts that might be presented in unconventional ways. Sometimes, the most valuable results are right in front of us, requiring a unique perspective to uncover their significance. At Expertlancing, we've tackled numerous complex prior-art searches across diverse technical domains. We pride ourselves on employing innovative approaches to deliver the best results. If you're seeking inventive solutions to your IP challenges, don't hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

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