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IP Intelligence

3 Tips for Researching a Competitor’s Patent Portfolio

By March 26, 2019April 2nd, 2021No Comments

When you were a kid and you decided to search for buried treasure in your backyard, did you find a gardening trowel and dig a small hole, straight down? No. You went to the shed, found the biggest shovel you could carry, and headed for the perfect spot (probably the middle of the lawn) for digging. As you worked, you dug in, moved some earth, shifted your position, moved more, shifted to another angle, dug in again… until you had a hole that was not only deep but also wide. You were sure to uncover something soon! Success was a matter of combining the right tools with the right strategy.

Now, the treasure chest that you need to uncover is a company’s patent portfolio. How about beginning by popping the company’s name into a search field? This will not be enough; small tool, narrow-angle, weak strategy. You have a lot of ground to cover.

Performing a thorough search for a company’s patent portfolio is more difficult than it sounds. First, think of the prospect as an entity, not a single company. One name, which is the only name you know, or a name and an acronym (e.g., International Business Machines, IBM) entered in the search box will not return all the patents assigned to this entity. In addition to the inherent complexity of patent data, a myriad of variables can affect the direction of your search. A company is likely to have many name variations or evolutions. Corporate histories include diversifications, subsidiaries, mergers, and acquisitions. When a patent-holding company is acquired by another company, the name on the patent doesn’t always change. You need to include and manage all these factors to uncover a full patent portfolio.

The right tool, the right strategy, in one solution

Features in’s InnovationQ (IQ) make it easy for you to collect a thorough and accurate portfolio of a company in an efficient way. It offers you three angles from which to approach your exploration of a company’s portfolio.

1. Corporate Tree Browser: Use the S&P Corporate Tree to include parent companies and their children. The Corporate Tree Browser searches the names of organizations linked to patents, so you can explore the hierarchy. It provides a view of the Ultimate Parent and its children, which allows you to build search portfolios, create search filters, and perform other actions.

2. Smart Name Normalization: Working hand-in-hand with the Corporate Tree capability, IQ integrates smart name normalization to help capture the most name variations.

3. Patent Agent & Attorney Filtering: To be extremely thorough, you should search the assignee fields in addition to the agent field to find documents that might be hiding. In your search, apply a filter for patent agent or attorney.

Adding these angles to your search provides a holistic and accurate view of patents assigned to a certain entity, allowing you to unearth essential competitive information about patent ownership. This leads you to the next steps of meaningful monitoring and analytics.