New Frontiers in the Strategic Use of Patent Information

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"New Frontiers in the Strategic Use of Patent Information"


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Further Details of Patent Studies:

International R&D trends and technology scouting

In such studies the 'big picture' revealed by the Patent Maps is complemented with a detailed analysis of each top company and each technology cluster

Because of the increasing levels of litigation many companies are finding it harder to ignore the benefits provided by IP intelligence. In addition, business managers are increasingly recognising the need to protect their own competitive advantage in the face of increased 'offshoring' of manufacturing. Many R&D managers also appreciate that competitors' patents are a valuable source of technical information which might help to improve the efficiency of their own innovation processes. Patent mapping is emerging as the one of the essential tools to assist with the proper technology scouting and the strategic review of R&D landscapes.

Most companies have limited capabilities to carry out patent searching themselves, instead they typically rely on the incomplete 'patent watch' services provided by patent attorneys or other service companies. In our experience most advisors involved in this kind of work are not very expert at patent searching. In the main such third party service providers justify their high fees by developing conclusions and recommendations on the basis of a rather incomplete initial patent dataset. PatAnalyse has a clear competitive advantage for providing patent landscape studies due to our revolutionary technique for managing the process of patent searching. The PatAnalyse search management system allows firms to obtain a much more complete picture of competitive IP activities and is specifically adapted for 'self-learning' iterations of the patent search strategy and to receive regular updates to the active patent portfolio. Most clients are usually shocked when during the project with PatAnalyse they learn the degree of limitations of the patent search strategies used by their advisors or their internal team in the past.

To add to these problems, the competitors' patents known to the clients are usually analysed internally in the client's organisation using an archaic spreadsheet approach. As the volume of patent documents grows, so does the opaqueness of the patent data—making it more complicated to obtain insight or useful information. Furthermore many companies are increasingly recognising that the IP information needs of their businesses now transcend the capabilities of single users. Even medium-sized businesses are starting to realise the need for on-line systems which can be used across the organisation within the usual business processes for obtaining and sharing IP intelligence.

PatAnalyse can provide to such companies its proprietary on-line patent management tools to improve their processes. In order to assist companies further to make good use of patent data, PatAnalyse’s on-line tools address the need for increasing the efficiency of task distribution and organising collaboration between users. Our tools are specifically developed to assist with the exploitation of the insights gained from the patent knowledge base. These on-line tools provide an intuitive and efficient system for technical analysis of un-met needs and the shortcomings of the available solutions. Putting together a proper understanding of un-met needs with insights into why technical solutions adopted in the past have failed can often stimulate disruptive innovation – usually the ultimate goal of R&D managers.

A Patent Mapping study provided by PatAnalyse is a 'deep dive' into the Invisible web - to the information derived from patent databases. In our analysis we are starting with the following:

  • benchmark the clients’ existing patent portfolio against competitors
  • detailed analysis of each top company and each technology cluster
  • identified novel solutions, white spaces and potential partners
  • systematic approach to Open Innovation technology scouting

Patent statistics are supplemented with publicly available marketing intelligence regarding the current product portfolio of major competitors. Our findings contribute to technology forecasting and management. The results of the study inform the strategic decision makers in the client organisation and help to align research budgets according to the gained intelligence. We provide detailed answers to the specific questions:

  • what technologies are already deployed and what is emerging?
  • what are the benefits that these emerging technologies bring and who owns them?
  • is there is any apparent ‘white space’ in the IP landscape?
  • how serious are IP threats?
  • are there any valid infringers?
  • what opportunities there are to in-license patents from third parties?

Detailed studies of the patent portfolio are achieved with support from the on-line patent portal system. Among other options, the on-line portal provides access to an interactive electronic version of the Patent Maps. This allows, with one click, the user to zoom in to the list of patents behind a particular spot on the Patent Map and then down further to the details of the individual patents. In addition, the extensive patent mining interface of the patent portal system can be used to carry out bespoke patent searching using any combinations of assignee name, taxonomy, priority date, keywords, patent codes, patent citations, and all other remaining bibliographic fields.

While head of strategy for what is now the National Measurement Office, I became aware of the value of the strategic information contained in worldwide patent databases. A pioneering patent mapping study carried out by PatAnalyse staff was extremely helpful in the formulation of the Measurement for Emerging Technologies research programme in 2004. We faced the problem that emerging technologies inherently involve newly forming sectors, with limited sector leadership/representation (as compared to well established technologies), so we did not know whom we should consult in the formulation of this programme. Patent data is inherently forward-looking and thus ideally suited for thinking about the long term future. The patterns of activity revealed by the mapping confirmed real industrial and academic interest in the research themes selected and identified key players in the UK and overseas. Many of these players became partners in the programme leading to an unprecedented level of industrial and academic co-funding in the research programme. Subsequently patent mapping became a routine part of the formulation process for all NMO research.

Petar Stojic,
Formerly Head of Measurement Science Strategy; Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, UK

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