Publication Date01 Jun 1990
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Library & information science
Host news
ACS fires back
The American Chemical Society (ACS)
has finally answered Dialog's
$ 150
lion lawsuit against it with a countersuit
and accusations that Dialog defrauded it
of $10 million in royalties. ACS seeks
an additional $30 million for punitive
damages and asked the courts to insist
on a formal audit of Dialog's payments.
In its 31 August response to a suit
filed by Dialog in
ACS claims that
the real reason for Dialog's litigation
was "to eliminate the longterm threat to
its market dominance posed by ACS",
and to avoid payment of the royalties it
ACS insists that Dialog's pricing
policy for use of the OneSearch multi-
file database breaks the rules laid down
in its licence for ACS data, a charge
Dialog terms "far-fetched." As Dialog
sees it, ACS is trying to get paid for
users searching of other producers'
databases and it intends to strongly con-
test the allegation.
According to Information
view this issue could have lasting effects
on the future of multifile searching. If,
as ACS says, Dialog should pay con-
nect-time from log-on to log-off in any
OneSearch session in which CAS is
used, multifile searching would become
prohibitively expensive. The only solu-
tion would be for Dialog to abandon
connect-time charging.
ACS suit further alleges that
Dialog since at least 1975 has been ap-
plying a double standard, rounding up
connect time when charging customers
but rounding it down when paying roy-
Since 1 April, when Dialog
started charging users to the next high-
est minute, it has still been paying ACS
on the basis of rounded-down thou-
sandths of an hour, according to ACS.
Another gripe is that Dialog refuses to
pay a minimum usage fee on the RSS
Dialog has denied ACS's claims to
the court. The rival producers are now
preparing their cases for what promises
to be a lengthy court battle.
warfare: Anything
Dialog and ACS continue to battle it out
for large stakes in the chemical infor-
mation market. Meanwhile, according
to Jacques Michel of the European Pat-
ent Office (EPO), there is so little
money in the patent side of the online
chemical business that practically no
one is making a profit.
Speaking at the Second Montreux
Chemical Information Meeting this
autumn, Michel said the entire online
chemical/patent business is only worth
about $86 million. It's not enough to
sustain competition much longer, he
predicting that by the year 2000
there will be only one online patents
provider left. The two most likely con-
tenders for survival are Chemical Ab-
stracts Service (CAS) and Derwent.
These two share over 80% of the total
market revenues between them, with
everyone else left to fight over the re-
mainder. Michel, formerly of Questel, is
now Head of the EPO Directorate I in
The Hague.
The fortunes of online hosts and pro-
viders were not made any brighter by
the recent discovery that about 80% of
online databases will fit on a single CD-
ROM. This gives optical publishers
plenty of scope for new products, like
the one WIPO is discussing—a synop-
sis of Versions 1-5 of the International
Patent Classification with indexes in
German, English or French.
Good chemical CD-ROMs out now,
according to Martin Lobeck of Henkel,
are ESPACE from the EPO (even
though high-resolution VGA screens
are not supported) and both versions of
US Patents published by the US Patent
and Trademarks Office and by
Chadwyck-Healey. Drawbacks to CD-
ROM, Lobeck says, are that you nor-
mally can't use it while your PC is con-
nected to the corporate mainframe (he
suggests programs less hungry for
memory) and the insistence by most
vendors that discs be returned when
your subscription ends. Here are some
of the most recent chemical/patent on-
line files and services announced:
Data-Star launched Current Pat-
ents Evaluations (CPEV) from Cur-
rent Patents Ltd, the same people who
produce Current Patents Fast-Alert
(CPBM). CPEV has summaries and
evaluations of cardiovascular, CNS and
antimicrobial patents written by spe-
cialists in each field. Updates are
monthly. CPEV complements CPBM
which provides therapeutic patent in-
formation within ten days of its avail-
Derwent has come up with a rapid
alerting service of its own, Patents Pre-
view, for subscribers to its pharmaceu-
tical patents services. It is designed to
give users high quality abstracts of pat-
ent documents within 1-2 weeks of the
patent's publication. You can specify
which countries you want coverage of
concerning inventions in the areas, in-
itially, of the central nervous system,
immune system, cancer chemotherapy
and endocrine system, and the cardio-
vascular system.
A new file from Derwent is Gene-
seq. It has nucleic acid and protein se-
quences described in published patent
applications from sixteen patent issuing
authorities around the world. It covers
all patents issued in
and references
from 1990. It can be searched either
inhouse or online using the IntelliGene-
tics programs. New sequences will be
added to Geneseq every two weeks, and
plans are to add sequences from earlier
patents retrospectively. By January
plans are to carry records dating
back to at least 1981.
Version 2.0 of Derwent's Standard
Drug File (SDF) with Graphics now
allows graphics searching of drug struc-
tures and substructures from among
nearly 25 000 compounds. It has over
100 000 synonyms, trial preparation
codes and trade names, and lets you link
biological activity keywords to drug
names and structures. A further en-
hancement is the facility for cross-filing
into online bibliographic files. SDF
with Graphics is designed as an inhouse
file to run on a micro using Hampden
Data Services' PSIDOM, or on a mini
using either MACCS-II from Molecular
Design or DARC-SMS from Télésys-
The Electronic Library, Vol. 8, No. 6, December 1990 445

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