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Oct 22, 2021

Seven Effective measures for generating actionable insights in a patent landscape reports

Patent Landscape report is an effective decision making tool for organizations when they plan to enter a new technology segment or would like to retrospect their market position with respect to key competitors and recent entrants in an already existing space. These reports provide an overview of data charts and technical trends providing insights into Technology evolution, Top players, Key Inventors, Competitive insights, White spaces, Most cited patents. It may be interesting to note that majority of the landscape reports have huge technical data but still miss-out on answering key business questions.

Most searches believe that patent landscape reports are prepared solely for the benefit of IP teams but in reality have applications for diverse set of portfolios including R&D teams (to get technology insights), IP team (identification of key foundational & advanced IP rights), Business & IP strategy team (identifying opportunities/ threats), Project managers (understanding timelines and to-dos), Executive team (business, competition, market overview). Herein, we share seven effective measures to ensure that patent landscape report are on-target to answers critical business questions.

Getting the taxonomy categorization (classification) right

Taxonomy categorization relates to different technology heads for segregating each of the identified document based on the disclosed information. For example Probiotic technology may be clustered into following broad heads: Probiotic organism (Bacillus, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Yeast), Target (Human, Field animals, Companion animals), Application areas (Pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverage, Dietary supplements, Animal feed). There are many known ways of building the taxonomy categorization including mapping across complete value chain or problem-solution based approach to achieve project objectives. Taxonomy categorization later translates into both the technology charts and white spaces analysis, hence is the most critical aspect of the project design.

Ideal taxonomy categorization should be one that
  • Answers business questions related to the technology
  • Captures key technology details disclosed in potentially relevant patent documents and that may be useful for white space mapping
  • Takes into consideration Product/Technology’s properties/ parameters/ingredients critical to consumer acceptance.
Carefully choosing timeframe for the landscape search

It is important to choose the right duration of timeframe for conducting the patent landscape search. Many a times, businesses going for a five (05) to seven (07) year patent landscape may miss out on a key insights including foundational IP which may be key to understand the technology evolution. While choosing the patent landscape timelines, some research should be undertaken to ascertain timeframe that captures foundational IP and is ideal for generating complete and accurate bibliographic and Technology insights. Most researchers suggest avoiding any date restrictions to gain comprehensive technical insights but a timeframe of Ten (10) – Fifteen (15) years is generally recommended for high traffic technology domains in-order to optimize research effort.

Go Global (No jurisdiction restriction)

Patent Landscape reports are an effective tool to understand technology evolution and technical trends in a specific technology. In order to understand technical advancement in a technology, it is essential to conduct a global patent landscape that covers inventions filed in all jurisdictions (e.g. China, Korea, etc.). Many searches think that since they are operating only in a specific jurisdiction (e.g. US), technical insights restricted to a specific country may be sufficient for generating actionable insights. It should be kept in mind that the country restriction may reduce overall effort in generating landscape reports but may suffer from many data deficiencies leading to incomplete and inconclusive insights. Global Landscape searches are key to generating comprehensive technical insights on key findings including technology white spaces. We also recommend to include recent PCT applications that are yet to enter national phase so that information on recent patent filings has been captured which is essential for monitoring R&D strategy of key competitors.

Focused White Space mapping

White space mapping is one of the key findings of such Landscape studies highlighting opportunities for both the existing players and new market entrants. Taxonomy categorization should be designed in such a way that detailed analysis helps in identification of less explored technical options in the technology segment (Technology gap). Problem-solution approach may be useful in many scenarios wherein solutions may be clustered into multiple buckets (and further sub-buckets) to map unexplored or less-explored buckets which may be reviewed as a potential targets/ opportunities. Technical data charts and Top player comparisons should be reviewed in detail to bring out gaps in the research so that the company can focus on building innovation in these segments to increase market presence. Patent white space mapping brings out the less explored segments/ solutions in a technology and these findings should be combined with other critical parameters including technical capabilities, market potential before investing in these new segments.

5. Adding key market Insights

Patent Landscape reports may not generate critical insights if these are not connected with market dynamics. Following aspects should be considered while building technology snapshots: Acquisitions/ Collaborations: These partnerships are key to enhance innovation in a technology and it becomes essential to bring out how these acquisitions/ collaboration impact IP ownership. Market Leaders with top products: Market positioning of top players is essential to co-relate value of the patent portfolio of key player’s w.r.t. to technical enhancement for a product/ technology. On the other hand, there may be players with huge market presence but without any substantial IP portfolio. Next-Generation Products: Next-generation products/technologies relate to game-changing disruptive innovations that target exact customer needs and are technically advanced as compared to existing products. It may be critical to identify such innovations and associated IP assets protecting them.

6. Competitor benchmarking details

Patent Landscape reports should have information on top players and how these players rank in head-to-head comparison w.r.t. to pre-defined parameters. Size of patent portfolio, Patent strength and other key aspects should be used to highlight IP strength of these competitors.

Different Pre-defined parameters that may be used for such benchmarking include:
  • Portfolio size (No. of patent families)
  • Patent Strength comparison (based on parameters like citations and legal status)
  • Jurisdiction coverage (more the jurisdictions covered, more the IP protection in global environment)
  • Avg. patent portfolio Age (may be used to estimate remaining “Patent Term”)
  • Technical diversity (patent activity in specific segment or across complete technology)
7. Lawsuits and opposition details

Insights based on any legal proceedings including patent Lawsuits in courts and oppositions in patent office may be helpful in understanding key granted patents and pending applications may impact FTO (Freedom-to-Operate) in that technology. Various Legal databases and patent office websites may be reviewed in detail to prepare technology associated lawsuits/ oppositions and involved parties in such legal battle.

Herein we have presented some important pointers for the patent landscape reports that may aid in bringing out clear and critical insights. Robust technical data and systematic taxonomy clustering are essential to bring out actionable insights for accurate decision making in a competitive marketplace.