The first meeting of the Working Group R&E (data Retrieval and Evaluation, then called Working Group Networks and Online Retrieval) took place in 1976, when online searching was still in its infancy, which makes it the oldest WG of the PDG. The majority of its members are professional information scientists or engineers involved in the day-to-day business of information retrieval. This WG was set up for exchanging experience in the use of electronic databases, online searching, quality of databases as supplied by various hosts, internet, communication and retrieval software. The group aims to provide a forum for information specialists to meet and exchange ideas and experiences on searching for patent information. The members discuss problems associated with searching patent information and suggest solutions. The WG meets once a year for a two-day meeting hosted by a Member Company and the second day of this meeting is normally dedicated to presentations by external partners. The PDG organises various inter-company tests, comparisons and evaluation studies and the results are presented to the members and invited information providers in a uniform and objective manner. This approach has proven to be very effective for drawing attention to the needs of professional patent information searchers in industry.