Would you like a patent search with your recruiting tool?

TalentBin has added the U.S. Patent Office's database to its tool for matching employers with job prospects. Don't be frightened.

Jim Kerstetter
Jim Kerstetter Staff writer, CNET News
Jim Kerstetter has been writing about the high-tech industry since the 1990s. He has been a senior editor at PC Week and a Silicon Valley correspondent at BusinessWeek. He is now senior executive editor at CNET News. He moved back to Boston because he missed the Red Sox. E-mail Jim.
2 min read
TalentBin is digging into patent records for recruiters. TalentBin

If you thought patents were intruding into the tech industry just a wee bit too much, brace yourself. Now they can be part of the recruiting process.

TalentBin, a San Francisco startup that scrapes social media sites ranging from Quora to Twitter in order to index hiring prospects for recruiters, has added the U.S. Office's patent database to the sources it scours for information on prospective employees.

Call it novel or horrifying, but I can see how it would be useful for recruiters, particularly in areas like biotech and manufacturing. And, yes, software, though you could argue that in many cases software patents are somewhere between obvious and goofy. TalentBin has searched patent records going back to 1985, so chances are if you've received a patent in the last quarter century, they've categorized your skills.

The patent index won't initially be part of TalentBin's overall prospect profiles, but that should available in the coming months. After that, the company hopes to add searches of professional journals to its index.

TalentBin was called Unvarnished when it was started about two years ago. That quickly changed to Honestly.com -- a new moniker for a Yelp-like site where people could anonymously write reviews of their coworkers. Perhaps not surprisingly, that model didn't really work. In May, the company changed its name to TalentBin and its the business model to what it is today.

A single seat license for TalentBin costs $5,000 per year, about half the price of LinkedIn's recruiter tools. You also won't find LinkedIn information in TalentBin's material, since scraping resumes from their site is against LinkedIn's terms of use.

I asked co-founder Peter Kazanjy what he thought of critics who would say that he's only adding to what they see a perverse, out-of-control patent system. His first answer was measured: "I'm not super-educated when it comes to the current conversation in the market: Do patents spur innovation or do they reward it?"

But Kazanjy's second answer cut to the bone for the engineers and the big thinkers who are toiling inside big companies, doing the work behind the patents, and watching executives get credit for them.

"Historically, the people doing the hard work of invention and innovation... it's harder for them to get recognized for that without doing a lot of self-promotion," he said. But adding the patent database to a talent search tool may help those people get recognized for that work and just maybe get offered a better job somewhere down the line.