Through the IP Lens – An Introduction to PATENT LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS and its SIGNIFICANCE
Patent Landscape Analysis – What is it?
The vast and everchanging record of published patents and patent applications from patent databases the world over is a treasure mine for those invested in Intellectual Property ranging from universities, businesses, R & D institutes, large corporations, start-ups, inventors, etc. This vast set of information can be mined to analyze information regarding the overview of the patent situation of a technology country-wise, region-wise, or globally. This is known as Patent Landscape Analysis and is used to take a ‘picture’ of the patent landscape to make business policy decisions, identify patent filing trends, decide R & D areas to invest in, and other such decisions. The results are presented visually through charts, graphs, and diagrams. This study is also known as, State-of-the-Art study, Competitive Technical Intelligence Report, or White Space Analysis.
Why is it needed?
A patent landscape analysis is performed by the patent analytics experts of an organization with inputs from R&D, marketing, legal teams, business development, etc. The analysis is then applied to generate novel technology, identify possible companies/technologies to license or acquire, design around others’ technology, bypass any litigation, or avoid duplication of technology.
For example, if an organization, a mobile phone company wants to know the current state-of-the-art situation in “touch screen technology”. They may have questions as to,
- What are the types of inventions evolving over the years in this particular technological domain?
- What is the filing trend of patents technology-wise?
- Who are the foremost assignees or key players?
- What is the filing/publication trend of patents time-wise?
- Which companies are filing for the quantity and types of patents?
- What is the geographical distribution of patents with respect to a domain or to a specific player?
- What are the different categories/buckets into which the technology can be divided (taxonomy) and what are the number and types of patents filed in those categories? Are there any white spaces or technical gaps in a technical area?
A Patent Landscape Analysis Report will pictorially give an answer to such questions using charts and graphs so, at a glance, one can see the innovative ‘snap-shot’ of a particular technology.
An example of a pictorial snapshot of a landscape analysis is the following results from a landscape study done on “Artificial Intelligence in Nutrition” for the time period of years (2015-2020).
How is a Patent Landscape Analysis done?
The purpose behind patent landscape analysis is to review and organize the patent activity in a technological area. Steps in the process comprising:
- Establishing the objective of the patent landscape analysis. Why is it being done? Is it to generate ideas, or to perform ‘white space’ analysis, or to design around, or for competitive intelligence, or for deciding on a patent filing strategy/patentability, or for risk management/validity/freedom to operate?
- Deciding which patent search and analytic software to be used.
- Determining the geography, the time frame to be used in the search.
- Performing initial searches across patents and non-patent literature to identify a set of relevant keywords, patent class codes, and organizations working in the technical area.
- Classifying the results into technological categories. Creating the category schema as well as populating the categories with relevant patents.
- Using keywords, patent class codes, citation mappings to list patents that are relevant to each technology/product/application sub-area.
- Reviewing and sorting the patents within each relevant technology, product/application sub-category, automatedly using keyword and international class code searching, or manually by reviewing Titles/Abstracts/Claims.
- Analyzing the data – Patent Analytics.
- After the above categorization, the patent data is analyzed to draw conclusions through Patent filing speed charts, that show the change in patent activity in each technology/product/application area over time.
- Then top assignee tables help to know which companies, startups, etc. are investing in which technology/product/application area to identify potential business partners, customers, licensees, acquisition candidates, etc.
- Patent claims in each technology/product/market area are scrutinized and mapped to other patents or products for purposes of validity, patentability, or freedom to operate.
- High-level patent landscape maps are analyzed for “white space” opportunities.
The Beneficiaries of the Analysis
Researchers, Scientists, Business development teams, and Competitive intelligence teams all can benefit from this analysis. Patent filing trends can be used to determine the phase of the technology whether it is in its infancy or is in a mature or declining phase. Legal teams can evaluate new R&D opportunities by finding gaps in the landscape, “white space” and identify potential licensees or infringers.
Patent Landscape Analysis is therefore a gold mine of information for Researchers, Scientists, Large Corporations, Universities, Startups, and anyone invested in innovations and Intellectual Property to be used to their benefit.
The views are that of author’s own and not necessarily the views of IPTSE Academy. This blog is a platform for academic discussions and hence authors have been given flexibility to convey their thought process.