Searching through patent data can be a tedious and time-consuming chore. Once you have the data, what are the best ways to use it? Whether you are a corporate IP professional, a product development engineer, a librarian or in the tech transfer office, a patent examiner, or in research & development, there are layers of information to dig through and a multitude of directions in which you can go. One way to begin is to identify your goals for turning raw data into a commodity. Here are a few suggestions for applying all that patent search data.
1. Protect or Defend
At the top of any inventor’s or IP lawyer’s mind is infringement. Is this new idea really novel? Can I move forward with patenting to protect the idea? Is my innovation defensible? Finding all relevant Prior Art is critical. Types of prior art searches include:
- Knock-out: Is there art that “knocks out” your invention by disproving its novelty?
- Patentability: Based on the description of the invention at hand, what art is most similar? How does your invention compare to points of novelty? Is there evidence of use that squashes non-obviousness?
- Freedom-to-Operate (FTO)/Clearance: If you move forward, can you use/practice this invention without infringing another’s valid patent rights?
- Validity/Invalidity: Is there prior art that you can use to invalidate another patent, or that someone else can use to invalidate yours?
For prior art searches, it is imperative that you look beyond patent literature to explore technical literature, often referred to as non-patent literature (NPL). That can be anything from defensive publications to white papers, user guides, and technical manuals. Your search field just blew out the boundaries of patent databases. Specifically, you want to include NPL for searches for: evidence of use, prior art, state of the art, landscape, and competitive intelligence. For more information about NPL, check out this past blog.
2. Build a Strategy
How robust is your market intelligence when it comes to innovation? What are your competitors doing, or not doing in the R&D and patenting space? You can find white space to fill and new rows to hoe, as well as recognize information that blocks your way.
Analyzing company patent portfolios, both others’ and your own, can help you gain strategic competitive insights. Patent data can help you:
- Learn about a competitor: Find a competitor’s patent portfolio and learn about their assets, technologies, filing trends and strategies including when and where they file, active inventors, co-assignees, litigation history, and more.
- Benchmark: Learn about and compare multiple entities’ patent portfolios.
- Focus on areas of a portfolio: Once you capture a volume of data, drill down for more specific information about one area of interest.
- Find competitors: In the vein of landscape research, find the biggest, most relevant, or conversely, unknown players in a particular technical space.
- Monitor a competitor: Set up an alert to be notified when a particular competitor has a patent document published.
Further, consider that companies often present with multiple versions of their names — abbreviations, acronyms, different spellings for different languages. One company might be a holding company or a subsidiary, which affects ownership and assignee references. To build an informed strategy, the patent data can help you draw the lines to competitors and their families.
Competitive intelligence highlights allow you to harness the power of patents to learn about a company’s strengths, direction, strategies, and more by examining and analyzing one or more company’s patent portfolios. This helps you formulate your own innovation strategy.
3. Partner or License
Beyond the competitive spirit, learning about inventive activity in your technology area can foster opportunities for IP growth and innovation investment. Evaluate your own and others’ portfolios. Perform patent and NPL search and analysis, but look at the results with a different perspective. Use the results to garner information about:
- Partnerships/Collaborations: Can an inventor or researcher add to your current body of work? Is another company or institution doing similar work, and sharing IP could be mutually beneficial?
- Marketing/Sales: Do you need help moving from the academic to the commercial space? Would you collaborate with or license to a third party?
- In-license opportunities: Who has an invention that you can take to the next level?
- Out-license targets: Where would you like to see your technology perform, and with whom?
When you have these answers, you can work on positive, forward-moving strategies. With new insights, you can broaden your scope of practice and grow your opportunities for monetization through partnering or licensing.
Make This Happen
This article suggests a lot of searching and analysis activity. With the right tools and a little bit of training, anyone can make a cash crop out of data seeds. IP.com invites you to explore artificial intelligence-driven semantic search and analysis capabilities with:
- The largest online prior art (patent and NPL) disclosure database in the world, PAD
- InnovationQ Plus intellectual property search software with more than 120 million documents and global patent authorities
- Time-saving Professional Search Services – an extension of your team, we do it for you
- Technology Vitality Reports that analyze millions of patents and calculate a score from the 100 most similar to your idea
- Patent Vitality Reports that analyze both U.S. patents and applications to calculate scores in the areas of patent, licensing, and competitive values through several proprietary indexes
- Results visualizations, custom charting, semantic mapping – easy visuals of all that data
- Natural Language + Boolean combination searching
- A Corporate Tree, powered by S&P Global, with name normalization
- … and more
Innovation is about growth: intellectual, technological, and financial. Determine what you want to grow. Then, use the right patent information and the most advanced tools to produce the highest yielding results.