Do you know what patent source you are using?
Usually, patents are a very good instrument to secure your freedom to operate and/or to block others from offering the same solution or product in a specific country. This country exclusivity right for your patent which will be revealed in the public domain 18 months after the first filing date, will only be in force once it is granted. In other words. All patent applications that are filed today by you will be available to the public domain regardless where on the globe it has been filed.
Patent publications can, on the one hand, be used by your technology-driven teams to avoid reinventing the wheel as well as analyze what your closest competitor is currently developing. These can on the other hand also be used by companies to keep track of such information in order to secure that no one is infringing on their rights, therefore, most probably your competitors are watching what patents you are filing.
Regardless of how you want to use such information in your daily work, you need an intelligent search algorithm to help you capture relevant information otherwise there is high risk that you will either capture a large number of hits with a significant ratio of non-relevant patents or you will capture only a few patents per week and thereby miss out on relevant patents.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that you create a good and balanced search algorithm that enables you to capture results with a significant portion of relevant patents using a reliable patent information source that has as complete country coverage as possible as well as provides good translation quality.
Let me show you one example of how the result can differ depending on how you define your algorithm?
Assume that your biggest competitor is ABB and you are only interested in Converter technology. How could such search algorithm be defined to not capture their entire patent portfolio according to WIPO IP Facts and Figures 2018?
The challenges behind patent information:
As you can see from the table the results differ significantly and the main reasons are; the difference in database sources, how the different fields are combined and how the database has been indexed.
Patent documents are in general also difficult to read because the language is not written in a typical technical format. These documents are however written by technical legal experts with the purpose to last in court if challenged but as well to fulfill the requirements to become a patent.
Machine translations if the application is filed in a different language can be tricky to understand because the translation might be impossible to decipher. If the translation is bad you may again not only miss on important information but also not capture relevant information for your business.
Patent information is updated every week and therefore you need to have the latest information at hand otherwise you can base your decision on outdated information. Once you are collaborating with PDF files or excel sheets you are by default working with old information.
Another problem that you will face, is that you might experience a deja vu (already seen before) feeling when performing an updated search where you will capture new family members of a previously seen patent which is basically the same invention but protected in a new country and you will most probably evaluate the same invention at-least twice and that is very time consuming.
Once you have identified a very relevant patent you will most probably want to know the legal status of the patent to take the right measure. If you don’t have a patent attorney close to you it can be tricky to extract such information if you don’t know how to interpret such information.
To follow the development of a certain patent you need as well to store the patent publication where it is automatically updated to track if it becomes granted, changed ownership or if an opposition is filed.
Three good reasons why you should digitalize your monitoring process
You can save at least 10 hours a week by using an appropriate patent management tool where patents are captured automatically based on your needs.
Select a good patent search tool that includes all search authorities with good translation where you don’t want to miss out on important patents. Be aware of the free search patent tools and the difference.
You can always stay one step ahead of your competitors where you will know what they are exactly developing but make sure that your patent collection is complete. If your competitor is from China make sure that you perform searches in Chinese data.
One last thing, if you see a patent application that should not be granted you can always file an observation or in several countries, you can up to nine months after publication that a patent has been granted give a notice of opposition. Therefore, always monitor relevant patents for legal changes and discuss with your patent attorney what to do.
Would you like to keep track of your competitors or technology evolution?
Get a free monitoring alert by filing in the information here.
My name is Dimitris Giannoccaro, I am helping technology-driven companies to unleash the power of patents.