Monitoring your competitors’ intellectual property is a key part of your own IP strategy. Without a deep understanding of how your competitors are innovating, your own products, services, and processes are vulnerable to competing offerings. These five questions can help you identify competitors and understand how they’re using their IP.
1. Are you monitoring the right organizations?
Before you can examine your competitors’ IP, you have to determine who your competitors are. The companies you’re truly competing with in the technology landscape and market may not be who you first think of when you attempt to list your competitors. Are your long-time competitors no longer a threat? Are new competitors emerging, whether startups or established entities expanding their offerings?
2. Have you looked beyond a single name?
Important patents are not always registered to the name you know a competitor by. Many large organizations have IP assigned to multiple divisions, subsidiaries, and acquisitions. IP.com’s InnovationQ Plus® allows searchers to more easily locate a competitors’ patents with the Corporate Tree and name normalization. These features allow for a more thorough list of company names, including acquisitions and subsidiaries, giving you a more complete picture of your competitors’ IP.
3. What is the value of your competitors’ IP?
Not all patents are valuable, and predicting the long-term value of a specific patent or IP portfolio can be difficult. However, using an analytics tool, such as the Patent Vitality Report (PVR), to predict the strength and potential return of a competitor’s patent can help you understand the business’s strategy and identify specific threats they pose to your organization.
4. What industries are your competitors innovating in?
As your competitors grow and evolve, they will likely move into markets tangential to your overlapping competencies. Where competing businesses are (and are not) innovating should inform your research and development efforts. Using the Semantic Map within InnovationQ Plus allows you to visualize the patent landscape. Finding areas already crowded by your competitors and identifying white space are equally important.
5. Is your competitors’ IP infringing?
Identifying innovations that overlap with yours is essential for protecting your IP. Review the technology landscape surrounding your most important patents, as well as any patent applications citing these patents, to determine whether or not your competitors are infringing on your IP. This information can be used to negotiate licensing agreements, create partnerships, or block competitors from the space.