Patent Citation Network Research Tool

Categories : All, Social Networks

Client Requirement


The client demanded a web application to analyze patent’s and identify the most important patents in a network. By utilizing the knowledge hidden in citation information, patent citation network introduces a new approach to search patent databases and to build and analyze technology landscapes.

The patent citation research tool will help you to:
  • Search patents more efficiently and faster. Use it in conjunction with other search approaches such as keyword or classification based searches.
  • Quickly identify patent in your area of technology landscape and expand your landscape intelligently by building the citation networks of the most important patents identified by the patent network earlier.
  • Identify patents that are most cited in the network via High Network Dependency on Patent Index (NDPI) patents that contains core inventions on which many other inventions are built.
  • Build on integrations and intersections via Patent Dependency on Network Index (PDNI) that identifies patents that cite many other patents in the network.
  • Calculate relative measure of how much a patent cites other patents and how much it is cited by other patents in the network through Ego Centric Citation Index (ECCI). ECCI is a combination of PDNI and NDPI scores and highlights patents that perform well on both counts.
  • Compare patent portfolio strength with other patents to generate strategic insights and compare relative strengths of patent portfolios of different companies in a specific technology area.

The Patent Citation Network Research Tool references called as “Citations” to relevant prior art in the technology area of the invention. Citations are provided by the inventors as well as by the patent examiners. Citations are therefore easily accessible, ready-made compilations of the most important concepts in a technology area.

The citation network consists of Ego-centric Citation Network and Social Citation Network. An ego-centric citation network of a patent consists of a central patent (ego) and all patents that either cite or are cited by the central patent. The network includes citation links between all nodes in the network. A social citation network of a patent is a multi-level (or depth) citation network.

Depth 1 Social Citation Network of a patent includes all patents at a distance of 1 citation link from the central patent. The citation network also includes citation links between any of the patents. Depth 1 Network of a patent is the same as its ego-centric citation network.

Depth 2 Social Citation Network includes all patents at a distance of maximum of 2 citation links from the central patent. The citation network also includes citation links between any of the patents.

The patent citation network collects information from two different patent databases. They are:

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): Contains only US Patents and citations to US Patents. Also, USPTO requires the numeric patent number and depth as input. It can take only US Patent numbers (granted) as input. The output citation network contains only US patents (granted as well as applications).

European Patent Office (ESPACENET): Contains patents and citations to patents from multiple countries including US patents. However, not all US patents are covered in the ESPACENET database. ESPACENET requires the complete patent number (including the country prefix and the kind code suffix) and depth as input. It can take patent numbers from multiple countries as input. The output citation network contains patents from multiple countries.

The output is in the form of:
  • A citation network diagram.
  • Lists of patents ranked on the following:
    • PDNI (Patent Dependency on Network Index)
    • NDPI (Network Dependency on Patent Index)
    • ECCI (Ego-Centric Citation Index)
  • Radar plots of top 20 patents in each category (PDNI, NDPI and ECCI).

Project Challenges

Team faced the following challenges:
  • Extensive research and analysis was carried out by the team in the world of patents and applying all the knowledge in the patent citation area of the patent to identify the most similar or closest one to a patent of interest.
  • A comprehensive search required intensive search on both databases (USPTO & ESPACENET) with network diagrams, plots or graphs to identify the key patents in the network.
  • CPU usage depends upon the number of visitors accessing the site hence proper optimization of the site was involved in order to maximize performance and provide the fastest possible response to the users.
  • Incorporating web usability principles in the website design so as to ensure easy navigation for all types of users.
  • The most important of all was to ensure data security.

Technologies Used

Operating System & Server Management Red Hat Linux OS, Multi-Server Architecture with Staging & Production Environment through Version Controlling releases, Server Optimization, Security & SSL Implementation, Scheduler for Back-ups, Alert Monitoring System Integration, Server Performance Tuning at regular intervals, Software Firewall Configuration & Maintenance
PHP5+, WordPress, J2EE, HTML5, CSS3 etc. PHP5+, Apache Web Server, AJAX, Java Script, HTML5, CSS3 etc.
Database MYSQL Database Server, DB Clustering, DB Optimization, Master Slave Replication, Query Optimization, Scheduler for Backups


Project Leader 1
Developers 2
Designers 2
Quality Assurance Testers 1


The following four-tier development approach was adopted to equip the site with numerous features and functionality mentioned before:
  • The Database layer containing MySQL Server Database, Tables and so on.
  • The Data Access layer containing the Data Access Objects responsible for accessing data from the database.
  • The Business Logic layer consisting of all the business logic procedures for various modules.
  • The User Interface layer which forms the Graphical User Interface of the website.


The patent citation research tool was built around PHP. Modules were developed in PHP such that they can be executed directly from the UI layer. These PHP files consisted of all the business logics used for respective modules like Save (Add/Update), Delete, Get Single Object,Get Multiple Objects for Listing and were designed to be capable of handling many more logics which were not related to the database.

In order to most effectively access the database in an object-oriented context, an interface translating the object logic to the relational logic was used to communicate with the relational databases in an object-oriented manner. An intermediary abstraction layer was created for accessing data from the database. Stored procedures were used only for complex retrieval of data from multiple tables and were entirely avoided with conditional syntax to ensure smooth performance of the website. The UI layer was kept free of any business logic with images, applications and data being called from their respective servers.

Development Highlights

The site was equipped with a robust architecture to quickly analyze a patent’s citation network to identify the most important patents in that network. It enables the user to understand the technologies in vogue and gives quick and efficient results for patent’s citation network but also shows how strong your portfolio is. Extensive pre-development research was carried out to make the entire database compatible. Web usability guidelines were strictly followed during development and the interface was made easily navigable through judicious use of CSS and HTML controls. The site was developed and fully functional in a short span of time.

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