POPQuiz #4 Results - Picks of the Paparazzi

Multiple lenses come in handy sometimes.  Photo by  freestocks.org  on  Unsplash .

Multiple lenses come in handy sometimes.
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash.

POPQuiz #4 Results - Picks of the Paparazzi

Welcome back, POPQuiz POParazzi! Are you feeling ready for Patent Olympiad 2019? There’s still time to register, but do it soon – October 27 is less than 40 days away.

Our last POPQuiz assignment sent you celebrity-hunting – on the hunt for patents packed as full of celebrity names as possible without turning into a shameless tabloid.

As usual, here’s the recap.

popQuiz #3: challenge Recap

Find patent documents stuffed full of celebrities – or more accurately, names of celebrities. The celebrity names can be mentioned in anywhere in the document, as long as it’s clear that that the names can be tied to an identifiable celebrity.

We’re looking for submissions with the highest number of unique celebrity names.

How to Play

1. Craft a search that you think will capture the most celebrity names in a single patent.

2. Find and submit the patent document with the highest number of unique mentions of a celebrity’s name. This is your patent searcher’s equivalent of a great photo-stalking day.

3. Add a little information to help us understand who the celebrities are, if you think we might not be familiar with them. You can add a little information to give us context.

Failure was an option

Image 2019-09-17 at 10.38.49 PM.png

You never know what you’ll find with patent searches. Costas Stephanides submitted US4668521.

“It's a fail but one of the cooler patents out there,” wrote Costas, noting that the patent document had no celebrity names. It did, however, feature an image of Bert Reynolds rendered in chocolate. Or rather, a representation of an image of Bert Reynolds rendered in chocolate. The representation didn’t really look much like chocolate, but those are patent drawings for you: always a poor stand-in for the real product.

According to the document, the image is of “a male character having a head of hair and a heavy mustache”. Why they chose that combination to pair with chocolate I have no idea. It’s not my idea of appetizing.

Perhaps it was the pie.

the picks of the patent paparazzi

Confession: we didn’t meticulously count and check all the celebrity names in all the documents.

Our top submissions all had at least 30 names of celebrities or famous people in them. Thanks to all of you who submitted – the fact that you went through the documents and pulled out the celebrity from the names was a great help.

PICTURE THIS: Famous Artists

US5180306 Educational Art Game

Henk Pattyn’s results reminded us that our definition of our target (“celebrity”, in this case) determines the range of results we have to choose from. Henk expanded his range by not restricting his search to celebrities of the present day, which in most cases are stars of movies, television, or pop music.

Since Henk was also reminded of trivia games, he combined his search with some celebrity names. Given his top result, it appears he used celebrity names like “Jackson Pollock” and “Buckminster Fuller” as opposed to “Brad Pitt”. Henk retrieved a patent with at least 51 different celebrity names relating to art and architecture. In terms of absolute numbers of famous people, this submission is hard to beat.

I’m trying to imagine, however, what paparazzi might have looked like in Leonardo Da Vinci’s day, given what imaging technologies were at the time. An unruly crowd of artists with sketchbooks, perhaps? Or stampedes of rolling carts with hidden camera obscura?

Modern day celebrity is a strange, strange thing.

Artificial Intelligence and The Terminator

All four of these submissions listed over 30 or more contemporary celebrities, and all four were directed at systems in the broad area of artificial intelligence or automated searching.

Sander De Vrieze, Frazer McClennan, and Yateen Pargaonkar submitted members of the same family of patents - entitled “Topical Search System”, while The Morphologist submitted Apple’s “Intelligent Automated Assistant in a Media Environment”. Yateen’s choice of submission also some interesting connections to pop culture (at least in my filter bubble). This song came up when I searched for the document number.

All the submissions used celebrities as use cases for automated searching, and all three mentioned Arnold Schwarzenegger, which seems appropriate given AI’s relationship to one of his most famous roles.

Sander De Vrieze ran a few searches just to see how common certain celebrity names were. Albert Einstein was often invoked (1266 patent families) as was Bill Clinton (862), although Clinton was surpassed by a fictional character, Harry Potter (954). As for actors, Sander’s searches indicated that Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the most-mentioned, as 175 patent families.

Wait…there’s more than one? In the case of “Topical Search Systems”, yes. Image by  Gerhard Janson  from  Pixabay

Wait…there’s more than one? In the case of “Topical Search Systems”, yes.
Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay


Secrets of the patent paparazzi

Patent paparazzi and regular paparazzi share at least one secret to success: to find plenty of celebrities, they go where their targets are likely to be.

Sometimes that means they try and guess where celebrities are likely to be gathered – other times, it’s about “who you know”, because certain celebrities are more likely to be surrounded by fellow famous people than others.

Six Degrees of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Using the “who you know” strategy would likely include exploring the literature for a few sample celebrity names (as Sander De Vrieze did).

One could look for documents where there is some co-occurrence of celebrity names, with the idea that where there is one co-occurrence, there may be many. One could also look at the characteristics of documents in a result set that have a reasonable number of celebrity names.

Certain actor’s names – Arnold Schwarzenegger being one, Brad Pitt (perhaps) another – may be a good indicator of the presence of more. Of course, the usefulness of these names will vary over time, reflecting changes in fandom and fashion. Given what we’ve seen in the patent literature, should the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” be “Six Degrees of Arnold Schwarzenegger”? Or is it a phenomenon restricted to patents? Anyone want to do some analyses to find out?

Certain combinations of names may skew your results into highly specific domains (possibly characterized by tabloid drama). Other combinations may expand the range of celebrity mentions one sees in a document. For instance, how might the following compare?

  • “Brad Pitt” AND (“Jennifer Aniston” OR “Angelina Jolie” OR “Gwyneth Paltrow”)

  • “Arnold Schwarzenegger” AND (“Brad Pitt” OR “Barack Obama” OR “Taylor Swift” )

If one goes this route, one’s choice of specific celebrities should really be done after a first exploratory search. Also, it turns out not all Brad Pitts are Brad Pitt, movie actor and star of supermarket tabloid front pages.

Hanging Out in Hollywood. Or Paris. Or New York. Or the Movies.

In the case of our POPQuiz respondents, one common strategy was to narrow the search by guessing where one might find name-dropping celebrity-laden patents. Thus, The Morphologist suggested looking at technologies where celebrity identification might be a good use case, such as face recognition, movie databases, or an “intelligent TV/media programme guide”.

Games were also a useful domain. More than one of our respondents opted to focus their searches on games and especially trivia games, which was a good plan – especially because, as IPOctopus noticed, there are classification codes specifically directed at trivia games about “music, theatre, cinema, or art”.

employed the following search strategy to discover a submission with a high concentration of movie actors, who are currently among the most prominent types of celebrity.



A63F3/00: Board games; Raffle games

A63F9/18: . Question-and-answer games


A63F3/00119: . . Board games concerning music, theatre, cinema, or art

A63F9/18: . Question-and-answer games

A63F2003/00135: . . . Board games concerning cinema or films

Either one of the IPCs and one of the CPC and "actor name" and "Movie name"

STEP 2: AND to string of terms related to celebrities, i.e., (actor or actors or names or roles or Hollywood or movie or movies or papparazi or celebrity or celebrities or musician or musicians), reviewed about half of a large data set (450 hits), selected a few with actor names in the description and through some iterations reviewed hits of about 10 patent families.

I found a few patents with a few names, i.e., IN00549MU2010A - Claims: Bob Hoskins and Julie Andrews;

US2005225031A - Description:Jimmy Cagney, Greta Garbo or Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn,

A search strategy that picks up the one with the highest number of names is the following using PatBase: CPC=(A63F3/00119 OR A63F9/18 OR A63F2003/00135) or IPC=(A63F3/00 OR A63F9/18) and name Wf3 actor and Name w3 movie*

The description of the search process is a good illustration of the iterative nature of patent searching, and of the usefulness of classification codes for narrowing searches precisely. IP_ Octopus’s ultimate selection didn’t have as many names as some submissions, but the submissions with the longest lists of people also allowed for much broader definitions of celebrity.

Interesting side note: IP_Octopus found one item with the names of actors in the claims. Huh.

Thanks for playing POPQuiz #4

We enjoyed celebrity spotting with you. We’re now off to write you another POPQuiz.

We’ll be back.

In the meantime, don’t forget to register for Patent Olympiad 2019 – we would love to see you all in person.