Quick, intuitive patent portfolio analysis can inform IP strategy and ensure lasting business growth. Not only can you identify opportunities and vulnerabilities in your own patent portfolio, but those of your competitors as well! The corporate tree functionality within InnovationQ Plus® allows you to identify, compare, and analyze any company’s IP portfolio.
What is Corporate Tree?
Corporate tree is a set of data integrated into InnovationQ Plus that makes it easier to identify and search related companies and subsidiaries. Sourced from S&P Global Market Intelligence, it includes private and public companies as well as government departments and academic institutions with patents. The tool allows for a thorough and accurate list of company names (including acquisitions and operating subsidiaries), resulting in a more complete set of patent search results.
You can use this information to keep track of a competitor by pairing corporate tree with InnovationQ Plus’ semantic engine. The most efficient way to do this is to create a term list to allow a comprehensive search for the competitor and its child companies. The list can be saved and reused in future searches.
Creating a Term List
To create your custom list of company names, open the new Corporate Tree browser from the left-hand sidebar menu. Type the name of the company you’re interested in searching for, which will bring up a list of potential “ultimate parents,” or top-level companies. Once you’ve chosen an ultimate parent, click View to open the list of child companies that have been assigned patents.
This list of child companies can be filtered by name or location, so you can focus on a subset of child companies. Once you have selected the child companies you want to include in your search, click on the Selected button at the bottom right of the window and choose Save as Term List to save the list of names. Now, you can use this term list as a filter when conducting your search.
Using the Term List as a Filter
Open the Advanced Query Editor to search for Current Assignee. Select the Current Assignees Boolean filter. Then, click Load Term List at the top of the dialog box in order to load your custom term list.
Choose the term list you created from Corporate Tree, click Submit, and click Add to create the filter. It will now appear in the Advanced Query Editor and can be edited or deleted from here at any time. Add more than one term list to examine multiple patent portfolios.
Enter a main concept in the Advanced Query Editor to focus the search to a technology area. Click Search and get a focused list of patent documents assigned to your chosen parent company and any child companies. Create an alert to monitor the selected company’s new grants and publications. Examine this list with Discover and visualizations, export your results to a portfolio and create custom charts in Analyze, or assess that same portfolio in the semantic map.
Contrast Patent Portfolios
Comparing competitors’ portfolios can be a daunting and complex task, but InnovationQ Plus allows you to quickly contrast two companies’ patent portfolios and draw conclusions. You can identify differences between where one company is developing technology and the other is not using the corporate tree and semantic map. Mapping patent portfolios can provide insight into where a company is innovating and investing.
For this method of patent portfolio analysis, we’ll use Visa and Mastercard as an example.
Step 1: Build Portfolios in Corporate Tree
Use the corporate tree to build a portfolio in InnovationQ Plus for each company of interest using the steps above. Then, combine them into one portfolio using Portfolio actions. You may also use the corporate tree to filter to both companies’ patents at once.
Step 2: Map Portfolios with Semantic Map
After creating a single portfolio containing all the patents for both companies, the pop-up dialog gives you the option to Map this portfolio. If you miss this pop-up, go to the sidebar menu and select Map this portfolio from Manage portfolios.
Use highlights to color each companies’ documents and quickly identify areas where the two companies’ patents do or do not overlap. For this example, we set Mastercard’s patents to be red and Visa’s to blue. We also colored Mastercard’s acquisitions orange and Visa’s acquisitions a light blue. Using the coloring lets you see areas where the companies have made acquisitions at a glance.
Step 3: Narrow Your Results
From a high-level view, you can see that Visa and Mastercard overlay in most technical spaces. They are both active in the broader areas. Where documents from both companies are very close or on top of each other in the map may be of interest as potential infringement.
Zooming in and exploring the map shows more specific areas where only one company is present. There are only blue hexagons (Visa) around the key concept of healthcare. This means only Visa has patents in this area. Using either the auto-region or lasso tool to select the area around the term, you can narrow the result set to learn more about the patent documents in this area. With further analysis, we find that Visa has been filing around the area of systems for managing healthcare spending accounts (HSAs).
There are many things you may learn from mapping two companies’ patent portfolios together. This information can help you understand how a company is shifting focus or expanding into new technology its competitors aren’t, based on patent applications. You may even evaluate two companies to see how well their patent portfolios complement each other, prior to a merger or acquisition.