In Eindhoven, five colleagues of mine and I underwent training in the art and science of novelty searching. Every patent is classified under the International Patent Classification system. You can imagine it to be similar to the bibliographic classification of books in a library. Each patent has one or more classification codes assigned to it and also has a unique patent number. When we use the classification codes to search for patents, the number of ‘hits’ is small and all are connected with a narrow field or a specific subject. So we had to learn how to classify an invention based on the description provided by the inventor and use that to search for patents which is closest to the invention on hand.
We were taught, in a classroom setting, by an expert in patent classification, Wim Krijnen. And what an expert he was! He was an elderly gentleman on the verge of retirement. He had old world mannerisms and very precise in his manners and speech. He reminded me of Mr. Chips of Goodbye Mr. Chips. He almost had the whole classification book in his head!
Just to give an example, a colleague described an “alleged” invention to him and sought his help to arrive at a classification. When posed with the question, he stood with his feet slightly apart, arms crossed and slowly rubbing his nose, with his elbow resting on the other hand. “I am a chemistry man. I am not very familiar with the electrical sciences. So, I may not be accurate. Let us see. Electrical sciences is. of course, H. Electronic circuitry is 03. The invention is about a pulse technique and that makes it H03K. And the invention is about switching and gating and that makes it H03K 17/00. And it has an element of delaying the pulses and hence it could be H03K 17/26 or H03K 17/28. He then proceeded to get the code from the internet and it turned out to be correct.*
Once, someone asked him a question and he asked us to go to his room so that he can show the relevant documents. When we went there, the first thing that caught my eye was a print of a painting by Modigliani. Perhaps this one. I exclaimed, “Ah! A Modigliani”. Wim beamed and asked me if I liked his works. Oh, yes!
He was, from then on, a friend of mine, in some ways. Whenever he met us, his pupils, as a group, he would wish us as a group and then nod at me separately!
Art Abroad III