The number of patent applications is constantly increasing. In 2011, it surpassed the two million mark for the first time and in 2012 was 2.35 million patent applications worldwide. However, when searching for patents, performing statistical analyses of patents or evaluating patent portfolios, the question arises: Who is the respective applicant and owner of a corresponding property right?
However, answering this question is not always easy. According to a KPMG study, 387,000 mergers and changes of ownership took place worldwide in 2013, with an upward trend of 17%. But other causes also lead to heterogeneous designations of applicant information, which all relate to the same applicant: From different names for the same company - through the filing of different representatives (patent attorneys) - to spelling mistakes, translation or transliteration problems to country-specific peculiarities of the respective patent offices (e. g. only naming of the inventors during the filing phase in the USA). On the other hand, there are cases in which different applicants actually have the same name or parts of the same name, or in which names are very similar and have to be differentiated. In practice, therefore, time-consuming manual searches and comparisons are usually required in order to keep information on applicants and owners uniform and up-to-date.