ARTISAN : a prototype retrieval system for trade mark images

Publication Date01 Mar 1997
AuthorMargaret E. Graham,John P. Eakins
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
ARTISAN : a prototype
retrieval system for
trade mark images
by Margaret E. Graham and John P.
Eakins, Institute for Image Data Re-
University of Northumbria at
Before a trade mark can be registered at the
UK Patent
registrars need to ensure it
isn't confusingly similar to any of 300,000
existing marks in the Registry's database.
Many trade marks take the form of abstract
geometric designs that are especially difficult
for indexers and searchers to describe.
ARTISAN, developed at the University of
Northumbria, is a system that allows such
marks to be indexed and retrieved
automatically, on the basis of their shape.
Evaluative studies have demonstrated the
feasibility of this approach, and the
established Institute for Image Data Research
plans further development.
This paper describes a prototype retrieval system
for abstract geometric trade mark images devel-
oped at the University of Northumbria at
Newcastle ARTISAN (Automatic Retrieval of
Trade mark Images by Shape ANalysis). The
initial funding for this project was provided by the
British Library Research and Development Depart-
ment (now Research and Innovation Centre) and
the Patent Office.
The paper will give some background information
on the Patent Office Trade Marks Registry, the
examination process involved in the registration of
trade marks, and the existing computerised image
retrieval system TRIMS which place the
ARTISAN project in context. The main features of
the ARTISAN system will be described and the
paper will conclude with a look at current work in
progress and future developments of the system.
The Patent Office Trade Marks
The Patent Office has been responsible for regis-
tering all UK trade marks since 1876. In 1986,
applications were accepted for marks of service
and the 1994 Act introduced marks for moving
images, sounds and smells. There are over 300,000
current trade marks, of which about 40% contain
some form of image data. A large number of
examiners are employed to deal with the search
and assessment of candidate trade marks in line
with the strictures of the Trade Marks Acts.
Upon application, a candidate trade mark is exam-
ined to find out if it is identical with, or similar to,
marks already on the register (in respect of the
same goods or services, or similar goods or serv-
A word search is conducted using the Patent
Office's OPTICS computerised system, which
contains details of all registered UK trade marks.
A search for a trade mark device in the form of an
image is conducted using a computerised image
retrieval system, TRIMS. A written report is
prepared for each search, for internal record-
keeping purposes, citing any similar marks if
found. If, after investigation, one or more of the
existing trade marks are considered to be so similar
to the candidate mark that it would cause confu-
sion, then the application would be rejected. The
outcome of the search is then reported back to the
applicant (or his/her agent). (The fact that a trade
mark cannot be registered does not prevent it from
being used to identify a product. In fact, there are
several famous trade marks which are not regis-
tered such marks are often identified by the
letters TM. Marks which are registered are identi-
fied (in the UK) by the letters RTM or a.)
The Data Capture Section handles the initial stages
of the registration process. The image of the
candidate mark is captured (i.e. scanned in) and
classified according to the types of goods or
services applied for and the types of
classifications can be amended by the Examiner.
The Examiner then performs the actual search
against the subsets of images associated with the
query. Searching depends primarily on visually
scanning subsets of image marks via the VDU
screen. Depending on the classes of goods in-
volved and the type of
the search could
involve the scrutinising of ten images or 10,000
and more. It is envisaged that something has to be
retrieved the expectation is that a trade mark
VINE 107

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