Sunday, March 18, 2007

Searching patents related to DICOM

In yesterday's blog, I described how standards developers and standards users can search the USPTO (US Patent and trademark organization) for patents that might encumber a data standard.

As an example, let's look at some specific patents (issued or pending) related to DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine).

A search for pending patents (patent applications) on the term ttl/DICOM pulls just those patent applications that have DICOM in their title. A second search (through the issued patent search engine available from the same site) would pull issued patents.

Here is the output for pending patents submitted since 2001 and containing DICOM in the title.

1 20070041647 Method for increasing the flexibility of DICOM tags management in application-specific integration
2 20060282447 Ndma db schema, dicom to relational schema translation, and xml to sql query transformation
3 20060259513 System and method to submit image requests to DICOM server
4 20060259463 System and method for the automatic generation of a query to a DICOM server
5 20060242268 Mobile radiology system with automated DICOM image transfer and PPS queue management
6 20060242148 System and method for integrating ancillary data in DICOM image files
7 20060239589 System and method for definition of DICOM header values
8 20060197968 Dicom print driver
9 20060064328 System and method for utilizing a DICOM structured report for workflow optimization
10 20060056680 3D volume construction from DICOM data
11 20050246629 Framework of validating dicom structured reporting documents using XSLT technology
12 20050237776 System and method for patient controlled communication of DICOM protected health information
13 20050031181 Method and system for analyzing bone conditions using DICOM compliant bone radiographic image
14 20040205563 Specifying DICOM semantic constraints in XML
15 20040025110 Precise UML modeling framework of the DICOM information model
16 20030149680 Methods and apparatus for streaming DICOM images through data element sources and sinks
17 20030101291 Application programming interface for provision of DICOM services
18 20020143824 DICOM to XML generator
19 20020143727 DICOM XML DTD/Schema generator
20 20020133373 Integration of radiology information into an application service provider DICOM image archive and/or web based viewer
21 20020052866 Methods and apparatus for streaming DICOM images through data element sources and sinks

If the word DICOM is in the title, it's a good bet that the patent will involve a method that uses the DICOM standard. The claims of such methods may possibly cover a user's intended uses of the standard. Had we simply done a search on the word "DICOM" without limiting the location of the search term to the title of the patent application, we would have retrieved 1144 patents from the USPTO patent application database. And these would just be those patents that are currently under review!

Notice that several of these methods seem to involve common tasks for informaticians who wish to tease out annotated data from a DICOM image and port the data and metadata into XML.

In the next blog, we'll look at one of the DICOM patents to determine the claims of the patent and the assignee of the patent.

-Jules Berman

Science is not a collection of facts. Science is what facts teach us; what we can learn about our universe, and ourselves, by deductive thinking. From observations of the night sky, made without the aid of telescopes, we can deduce that the universe is expanding, that the universe is not infinitely old, and why black holes exist. Without resorting to experimentation or mathematical analysis, we can deduce that gravity is a curvature in space-time, that the particles that compose light have no mass, that there is a theoretical limit to the number of different elements in the universe, and that the earth is billions of years old. Likewise, simple observations on animals tell us much about the migration of continents, the evolutionary relationships among classes of animals, why the nuclei of cells contain our genetic material, why certain animals are long-lived, why the gestation period of humans is 9 months, and why some diseases are rare and other diseases are common. In “Armchair Science”, the reader is confronted with 129 scientific mysteries, in cosmology, particle physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. Beginning with simple observations, step-by-step analyses guide the reader toward solutions that are sometimes startling, and always entertaining. “Armchair Science” is written for general readers who are curious about science, and who want to sharpen their deductive skills.