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Brainstorming & Collaboration

Reversing Creative Inertia with IQ Ideas: Q&A with Dr. William Y. Fowlkes

By March 31, 2021No Comments

This is the second in a two-part series on Augmented Brainstorming – a new software product designed to help engineers solve tough problems. We will be talking with Dr. William Y. Fowlkes, certified TRIZ practitioner and Six Sigma Black Belt at IP.com.

Dr. Fowlkes (Bill) is Vice President of Analytics and Workflow Solutions at IP.com, a global leader in patent and analytics solutions. Bill has worked in Research and Development for three decades.  He is a certified practitioner of TRIZ (The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), Taguchi Methods for Robust Design, Six Sigma and statistics.  He has taught TRIZ, Robust Design, and Applied Statistics to hundreds of engineers and scientists.  Bill is co-author of Engineering Methods for Robust Product Design.  He is the inventor on 28 U.S. patents.

In our last post, we talked about how to reverse creative inertia and come up with new ideas to solve difficult problems using our new AI-powered Augmented Brainstorming tool. Today, we go the next step and discuss writing a strong invention disclosure and scoring it prior to submission. 

Once a user has developed a new idea using IQ Ideas, what happens next?

Once a user has gone through the first two brainstorming modules, they can use the next module that we call Inventor’s Aide.  It’s a tool that can help engineers describe their problem/solutions and evaluate the description and novelty of their ideas as written, prior to submitting to the patent review committee.  

How does Inventor’s Aide fit in with the patent review process? 

Many companies have an Intellectual Property Management System (IPMS) for docketing patent applications and managing all related assets.  Inventor’s Aide fits into the input funnel for an IPMS. Inventor’s Aide allows the engineers and inventors to self-evaluate and improve their Invention Disclosure prior to submitting for review or docketing. Inventor’s Aide produces an output report when the inventor is ready that is ideal for the initial submission into the review process or IPMS.  

How does the Inventor’s Aide module work?

Inventor’s Aide has two main parts: the first helps the engineer describe their invention in a clear, succinct manner absent of any jargon and the second part evaluates the novelty and provides a list of the most closely related prior art – the 10 most semantically similar patents. 

Where does it pull relevant patents from? 

The software displays the 10 closest related patents, derived from major jurisdictions such as the US, Europe, China, Japan and others.  Filters are also provided for keywords and top companies to refine the list.  Only the Title, Abstract and Figures are displayed, which is usually enough for most engineers to get this gist of the patent, but optionally, links to the full patent text are included.

How does the software help an engineer better describe their own invention?

First, we ask the engineer to describe their problem and their solution separately, that alone helps them better clarify their thoughts.  We examine the disclosure for jargon, acronyms, and misspellings so those can be corrected or explained more clearly before proceeding. We also provide keyword lists generated by the AI from the problem/solution description and from the prior art found to be more relevant to the description.  If there are unexpected terms, then the description may be vague or unclear and the inventor can re-write their disclosure (the problem/solution statements) and look again at the new keywords to make sure everything is as clear and transparent as possible before evaluating the novelty.

How is the novelty evaluated?

Our AI engine scores the relevance of the patents related to the disclosure quantitatively.  The closer the most related patent is then the lower the novelty score.  The more dissimilar the closest patent is then the higher the novelty score.  

You can learn more about IQ Ideas Plus here.