Minesoft: Creating Innovative Patent Information Software
Minesoft started out as an ideal way to combine Ann Chapman’s and her husband Ophir Daniel’s unique skillsets within sci-tech publishing and web development. Today, the company has grown as a leading global patent solutions provider with offices in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, and an international network of representatives in every corner of the world.
Minesoft is an innovative online patent solutions provider offering its products and services to national patent offices, professional search firms, patent attorney firms, academic institutions and many Fortune 500/FTSE 100 companies around the world. Solutions and services include patent search and analysis, patent monitoring, competitive intelligence systems, knowledge management systems and more.
Ann Chapman started her career at a big international publishing company (International Thomson, later Thomson Reuters) and was sent all over the world to visit clients and secure business. After 6 years, Annmoved to a US publishing company (Ziff Davies Group) in the field of business information (companies and markets). She then returned to patents and sci-tech publishing with France Telecom Group spending 3 years there as a Director and Managing Director.
After just becoming a mother, Ann and her husband Ophir Daniel took the plunge to establish their own company, Minesoft. They decided to combine their skills and were lucky to be given a distribution and development deal by France Telecom, and a small initial loan that started them off.
Established in 1996, Minesoft quickly gained market traction due to its innovative patent information products. At the time, Ann’s career was blossoming in the online publishing industry, managing and directing companies in the field of published patents, sci-tech, and business information whilst Ophir was an in-demand web-based developer working in the early internet era.
Initially, they worked closely with Questel-Orbit and Research Business Information (RBI Inc) for about five years in marketing, sales and product development before branching out with their own products in the first decade of 2000. In 2003, they began close cooperation with RWS PLC, a publicly quoted UK specialist translation company and one of the biggest corporate scientific translation companies in the world today.
Growing by leaps and bounds
Together Minesoft& RWS launched PatBase, a searchable database of patent documents designed by experts in the complex art of patent information research. Since its inception in 2003, PatBase has attracted over 70,000 users worldwide. The primary search tool has been built on a robust platform to assist clients in performing intuitive searches of the amalgamated data and to review, share and analyze business-critical patent information that can propel business units to make better informed strategic decisions. The solution is easily deployable with the provision of free training from the Minesoft Support team in parallel with the client’s in-house team throughout the transition process.
Since 2000, Minesoft has expanded its portfolio of innovative patent information products to include PatBase Express, PatentOrder, PatDocs, IPShare, PatentTracker, Legal StatusTracker, CiteTracker, Chemical Explorer, Pat-KM, PatBase Analytics and more. The company has established its offices in the UK, Germany, and the USA – with additional dedicated representatives representing every corner of the globe.Minesoft recently expanded its presence in the German and American markets with the formations of Minesoft GmbH and Minesoft LLC.
Minesoft is developing a new Search Engine that will be released this year and will continue working on it in the following few years to develop some neat new functionality in areas like natural language searching, instant faceting of millions of documents and semantics. They also aim to develop the area of automated translations and landscaping analysis. They host about 160 million patent (sci-tech) documents right now and this is increasing every week.
Putting customer first
Talking about challenges faced during her entrepreneurial journey, Ann says, “We started from scratch, around our kitchen table, with an overriding desire to remain profitable. Despite not taking on outside investment we have grown the company every single year for 23 years and now have clients all over the globe – in every corner, but especially in advanced manufacturing countries where patenting is an important activity to secure intellectual property and sell goods abroad”.
They competed from day one with much larger international corporations as well as with other smaller firms that had specialized in their sector, but they managed to carve out a niche expertise and win clients over. They started off in a small way as a solutions provider to some big companies, but today clients take their products globally.
At Minesoft, their people and culture depend on two factors which they pride ourselves on 1. Puttingthe customer first. This is exemplified by the fact that they have the highest retention rates in the intellectual property market and their product development by their experienced in-house development team, headed by Ophir Daniel, is directly influenced by customer feedback. 2. People at Minesoft. Many of the people at Minesoft have been with the company for extensive periods and for some, the majority of their careers. They enjoy one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry and this helps them maintain continuity with client relationships and product and market insight.
Minesoft has worked to constantly develop platforms to enable both professional searchers and business executives to quickly gain the ability to answer business-critical questions in the timeliest manner. Search platforms should be built for users, with input from users, irrespective of what background these user communities have.
Achievements and milestones
- In 2009 and again in 2015, Minesoft won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for outstanding achievement in rapidly growing export markets in the field of Intellectual Property (patent) Information.
- In 2019, Minesoft received national and international awards for Best Overall Company of the year (Regional Chamber of Commerce) as well as Legal Tech Company of the Year from ACQ5.
- Ann Chapman-Daniel received the award for UK Gamechanger of the Year from ACQ5 and Information Professional of the year from Germany.
The continuous innovation in the firm has been instrumental in Minesoft being awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the second time in 2015. This coveted business award was given for impressive, sustained growth in International Trade. The company demonstrated outstanding achievement in rapidly growing export markets in the field of Intellectual Property (patent) Information.
It is very important for businesses to play a positive role in local communities. At Minesoft, they believe in giving back to society. In Richmond-upon-Thames, where Minesoft is headquartered, there is a lot of support for local businesses, the arts and the environment. In 2018 and 2019, they were active in the local Richmond initiative to raise awareness of plastic pollution in rivers. They had a staff team paddleboarding down the River Thames collecting plastic waste alongside other local corporate teams. Minesoft sponsored the event for the local community both years.
During these COVID times, Minesoft has donated to local charities providing food for frontline nurses and doctors in Critical Care Units at two key NHS hospitals in London. As Richmond, UK returns to work they have co-funded a wide Town Centre deep clean and regular anti-viral spraying of public areas that will take place twice weekly for the remainder of this year – the first town in the UK to undertake this, as featured on Radio London on 5th June 2020.
Minesoft sponsors international charitable organisations such as the World Monuments Fund to restore and conserve buildings, recently a building in the Caribbean island of Antigua with cultural significance and the newly created Commonwealth Heritage Forum, bringing together experts from different fields in conservation and education projects.
They also partnered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in the ASPI Programme, an initiative to give researchers in developing countries free or low-cost access to sophisticated tools and services like PatBase, for retrieving and analyzing patent data to help drive innovation worldwide. The program was launched 10 years ago to open resources for global innovation and narrow the economic divide.