“Manage IP As Strategic Business Asset”
What Is a Patent Landscape?
A patent landscape is a detailed analysis, on a patent-by-patent basis, of a particular company, technology or product area of interest. It may be 10 patents, 100 patents or 1000+ patents, but if you look at each patent on a patent-by-patent basis, we consider that a patent landscape.
This differs from the higher level “patent trend analysis” that may provide the number of patent filings in a particular space or by a particular company but does not provide any additional details on at patent-by-patent level of analysis. Many service providers will label this type of overview as a patent landscape but it is not.
Our view is that a “patent trend analysis” offers motivational information, while a patent landscape offers actionable information. For example, learning that a competitor has filed 27 patents in a particular area of interest is not actionable, since you don’t know what is contained within those patents. It is, however, motivational – it suddenly makes it clear that your competitor is aggresively pursuing a new opportunity!
That is the value of a “patent trend analysis”, it might motivate you to learn more about that particular areas of the patent landscape but it does not provide any actionable information.
A patent landscape, on the other hand, is actionable. It offers a detailed analysis, for example, of the 27 patents filed by your competitor, which will tell you exactly what problems they are trying to solve and exactly how they are solving them, at a level that allows you to clearly assess the business, marketing and technical implications and develop a plan of action.
More importantly, we can use the patent landscape to identify “white space” opportunities – opportunities that fit your business, marketing and technical objectives in areas where your competitor is NOT!
What Is the “Deliverable” in a Patent Landscape?
There are many different service providers who claim to offer patent landscape services, and there are just as many different formats in which they are delivered. Here is how we are different:
Traditional service providers generally offer a “deliverable” in the form a 100+ page report (that no one will read), a two hour Power Point presentation (that no one will remember) or a custom software program (that no one will use).
We take a consultative approach to the patent landscape. We work with you and your team directly, to identify strategies and opportunities in the patent landscape that are of business value to your team. We see reports, visualizations, Power Point presentations and software merely as tools that may sometimes be incredibly useful (in which case we use them) and other times may not. We see the patent landscape as knowledge that must be delivered to your team in to form of business insights – whatever form that needs to take.
By way of example, if we were to perform a patent landscape on 500 patents, we would look at a first subset of those patents, perhaps 100 of them, and present the key findings to your business, technical and marketing team. From this, we would gain a clear understanding of what insights are of value to your team and perform the next steps accordingly. Simply put, we turn patent information into business value. And with each step of the process we are delivering higher levels of business value in greater alignment with your business needs.
As a result of this consultative approach to the patent landscape, your entire team will know more about the competitive landscape than your competitors know about themselves.
What Is the Business Value of a Patent Landscape?
Now that you have some understanding of our consultative approach to the patent landscape and the types of opportunities that can be identified, let’s talk business value.
In general, companies are interested in the patent landscape because there is a particular product or technology space that they want to enter. The problem with entering a new space is there is substantial risk as to the investment required and the uncertainty of a profitable return on that investment.
The value of the information you can obtain from the patent landscape can be inferred through a couple of fairly straight forward calculations. A simple way to calculate the value of the patent landscape is as follows:
If we assume that a patent application costs about $10,000, then the value of the information contained in the patent landscape is $10,000 times the number of patents analyzed. Thus, for every 100 patents analyzed, you are looking at $1,000,000 worth of information. This number is based only upon the fees paid to file the patent application, and does not consider the engineering time that went into creating the invention in the first place.
Beyond dollar signs, there is some even more valuable information we can infer from the patent landscape. Knowing that a patent application costs about $10,000, and that most companies have an invention review process in order to decide which ideas to file a patent on, we can also infer additional business, marketing and technical insights from the landscape. We can infer that the ideas that are in the patent landscape have undergone some degree of vetting for marketability, patentability and business value. A marketing guy thought that customers might someday pay for this idea, a business woman thought that this idea fits the current business strategy, a technical reviewer thought the idea was technically feasible and so on. Now, with a single patent, this inference may not always be correct, but when you see that a competitor has filed 5 or 10 patents in a specific area – a lot can be inferred!
With this information in mind, we can begin to infer the business investment strategy of the different competitors, the market focus in terms of what features and functions it appears that they are investing in, and the technical feasibility of different solutions.
Finally, we can use this information to gain the business insights you need in order to make your own investment towards a particular opportunity.
In general, the business decisions that the patent landscape allows you to make are as follows:
Confirmation: There is tremendous value in the results of the patent landscape confirming that the opportunities you are choosing to pursue are also opportunities that are not blocked by competitors and that will also offer you a competitive advantage in the market.
Refinement: There is also tremendous value in understanding the landscape with a higher degree of resolution and nuance in order to further refine your business strategy.
Cancel: Another valuable service of the patent landscape is to identify those opportunities that are blocked, or may pose to great a risk and to low a chance of success. This information, though not ideal, allows you to cancel further investigation of this area and focus on bigger and better things.
In short, the patent landscape gives you a high degree of clarity as to the competitive landscape and the opportunities within that landscape. This clarity gives you a greater degree of confidence in either moving forward or cancelling your project. Finally, having clarity and confidence allows you to make bold decisions and begin to act on them – to innovate!