The importance and challenges of Competition Patent Monitoring
Patents are growing and last year 3,127,900 were filed, and growth means competition. To put this into perspective, a technology company needs to consider and evaluate over 60.000 new patents per week. To keep up with the various changes and developments to the business landscape, it is vital that all businesses have a competitive monitoring strategy to get to know their competitor’s business and product development.
Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist, philosopher and warrior died centuries before companies started to protect their innovation with intellectual property, but the ideas outlined in his classic manual “The Art of War” are surprisingly applicable when you want to understand your competitor.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Today, innovative companies around the world use patent data to make decisions about the technology development and their freedom to operate. Many of them have increased their revenue multiple times and mitigated the risks from an IP perspective. The reason they’re leading the way is because they’ve gained a strategic advantage over their rivals simply by shifting their focus to patent data in combination with business insights rather than relying on business judgment alone.
6 sins committed by companies that lead to a passive competitor watch
· Assuming that patent offices ensure that nobody infringes their granted patents
· Having no process to follow up legal status changes on very relevant patents, you can’t afford to not have the freedom to operate.
· Not monitoring business technology area development over time, believing they know everything about their space.
· Making business decisions without using available patent information because they don’t understand hidden information.
· Buying monitoring services from patent attorney firms in the belief that these are technical experts in their field
· Using excel sheets to analyse patents and collect feedback from the organisation by analysing old data.
3 good reasons why you should set-up competitor patent monitoring
· Forecast your competitors move by closely following what your competition has been or is doing will enable you to understand their strategies and predict future moves. This insight can help you plan better, improve your products and services to even outmatch your competitor’s products, and be better prepared with possible counter strategies. Your monitoring of competitor’s new product innovation or cost cutting strategy reduces the risk of surprise or of significantly hampering your business.
· Empower your organisation and increase awareness by setting up efficient and flexible workflows to ensure that; all critical patents automatically comes to the attention of the relevant decision maker, allows smooth exchange of insights within the organization, and notifications are sent out whenever the legal status of a critical patent changes, e.g. validated in a new country, changes ownership, or granted etc.
· Assess new or emerging threats by watching out for new competitors entering your market or existing competitor planning a merger with or acquisition of another company in the same industry. This competitive monitoring allows you to create mitigating strategies in order to minimize the effect of any potential threats to your business and market share.
How to become more data-driven in 5 steps
With all this in mind, lets become more patent data-driven, shall we?
· Step 1: Strategy
First, you need to identify your goals, and decide what can patent data do for you? Perhaps you are looking for new ideas, or you want to know what your competitors are doing and not.
Develop the strategy around your business objectives, so that you can get the best results out of all the possibilities patent data has to offer.
· Step 2: Selecting software
Identify a patent management platform that; gives you access to all patent data in the world (or at least in your target market place), is workflow driven so that critical patents are easily identified, allows all relevant employees to have access to the information and most importantly it should have all modern collaboration possibilities. Make sure to select a patent management software that is easy to use because you need to involve people with no IP expertise in your workflow.
· Step 3: Patent data targeting
Next, you need to identify which patent data sets to target for monitoring and analysis, and create a workflow process for your monitoring, maybe by connecting it to your gate model and respective technology areas of interest. Try to involve the entire R&D organisation in order to get full support, but make sure not to overwhelm your team with too many patent documents per week. To this end, it is recommended that you use your patent expert or external patent consultant to create a good patent monitoring that does not capture too many irrelevant patents.
Remember that, throughout the monitoring process, you also need to consider details of your own patent portfolios and captured competitor’s patents to find out which patent data sources and verticals (e.g. technology areas) within the data set provides you the most valuable information.
· Step 4: Collecting and analysing data
Identify key questions that need to be answered, try to follow up every quarter to keep track of development. Likewise, store all relevant patents to follow the legal event to make sure that you always have the freedom to operate.
To analyse the data effectively, you may need to use a sophisticated tagging system where you connect the patent with products and technology. The level of skills you need will vary according to what you need to analyse. The more complex the patent dataset is, the more specialist skills you’ll need. But your service provider should help you out to create a good system in a library.
· Step 5: Turning insights into action
The way you present the insights you’ve collected from the patent data will determine how much you stand to gain from them. There are multiple analytic tools out there that can pull together even complex sets of data and present it in a way that makes your insights more digestible for decision makers. Avoid fancy visualizations that are beautiful to watch, but not easy to understand. It is important that the visualization can be easily interpreted to provide you with the business insight that you need to take action or make the appropriate business decision.
Let patent data-based lessons shape your business
Becoming a patent data-driven organization is a little more difficult than waking up one morning and deciding to use patent data to make your business decisions. And it’s not just about selecting the best analytical tools that will help you extract insights, although it helps to have the right technology architecture in place.
It’s all about realigning your organization’s culture to; make sure that everyone knows the value of the patent data, know how to extract insights and make the most of it, and to directly apply the knowledge gained from these insights in the decision-making process. But, change has to come from the top, and transforming company culture means getting leadership on board.
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My name is Dimitris Giannoccaro, I am helping technology driven companies to unleash the power of patents.