For any organization involved in R&D, technology advancement is a continuous process, happening at a high pace. Even before a technology can secure its place in the market, there is always an upgrade right around the corner waiting to be announced. In such a scenario, understanding the progress and safeguarding their research work is of prime importance to the organizations. Often, corporations like to test the waters before plunging into advanced research or a new product launch by getting certain patent searches performed. Exemplary searches among these are: Patent Landscape, State of the Art and Technology searches.
Patent Landscape Search
Patent Landscape search, is a bird’s eye view of different aspects of a technology. The search report depicts the evolution of a technology, globally over a couple of years in a graphical format. For a given technology, the search can provides insights on major corporations, the most researched technology segments with maximum patent pool, leading inventors and jurisdictions etc. The analysis further informs about the presence (or absence) of white space or the least researched technology segments that may offer long-term value potential.
State of the Art or Collection Search
State of the Art or Collection search is a rather focused search on the technology segments than a Landscape search. If a corporation, after the initial Landscape analysis, finds a technology segment feasible to develop, the State of the Art search can be performed for more specific analysis. The report may present points of overlap between the technology segment and the subject invention. The report includes the most crowded patent classes/sub-classes (CPC, IPC, USPC), acquisitions or mergers, partnerships, and litigation pertaining to the segment.
Technology Landscape Search
Technology Landscape is similar to a Patent Landscape with emphasis on technology insights with respect to a competitive product or technology. The analysis includes scope of protection sought in the claims, major corporations working on similar R&D, identification of new opportunities in terms of specific whitespace segments, and possible application areas according to the requirement of an organization.
Irrespective of the analysis performed in all the above mentioned searches, non-patent literature is crucial to correlate with the analysis. Especially when the inventors are university researchers, non-patent research journals impart context to the insights. Further, new patent filings are published after a gap of around 18 months. Related published research findings and articles can provide a background before the patent applications are published. Other important forms of such literature are product brochures, litigation, mergers and acquisition data.
Illustrating an example for the above mentioned searches, a Landscape search on GPS technology devices would cover smartphones, watches, sports accessories, and automobile accessories etc. The search strategy, therefore, includes broad filters based on keywords, patent classes and assignees. Since the result set is large, the analysis involves screening of relevant from non-relevant patents.
The patent set obtained after the screening step is not final and may further reduce after the subsequent step, which is bucketing. Depending on the technology segments and the client’s requirement, the patent set is classified according to categories. In this case the categories may include, for example, GPS tech indices (such as distance, time, multipath, speed etc.), audio/video navigation, devices (sports, automobile, handheld), focus of claims (method, system, product, and use) etc. Each patent is analyzed and bucketed (marked as disclosing a category level) corresponding to each category. The analysis can vary depending on one member per patent family (main and extended patent families) or every member per patent family. The analysis refines the final patent count.
However, in case of a State of the Art Search, the technology segment of interest can be analyzed in detail. The search strings can have strict or narrow filters. In addition to sub classes, specific inventors and assignees, the filters can also include filing period and jurisdictions of interest. For example, the segment of interest is GPS enabled sports accessories; the search strings would not be as broad as formulated in the Landscapes, yet not very limiting to miss the comprehensive state of the art. The result set is, therefore narrow as compared to a Landscape. The categories may also extend further up to three levels for analysis. Usually only one member of a patent family is considered for targeted analysis in such searches.
Additional supporting data such as litigation, mergers, licenses and partnerships may also be included in graphical format. Many databases have features that provide revenue corresponding to major corporations, thereby creating better market insights. Based on the bucketing score, each category is presented in a graphical format: pie charts, donut charts, column/bar graphs, heat maps, or other visually appealing infographics. Categories depicting least patent activity and litigation can be graphically represented as potential white space considering possibilities of advancement and applications.
The purpose of such graphical representation is to portray the huge information dataset as crisp and concise insights, which are easily understood. Such visual insights are not just impactful to engineers and researchers, but also find congruence with sales/business professionals, hence aiding in collective informed decision making.
To conclude, it should be understood that unlike narrow invention-specific searches, the above mentioned searches are broader and performed at initial stages of product development. Irrespective of the search performed, the parameters of analysis and representation can be customized as per the requirements of clients.
We at OutsourceIP are outfitted to provide the quick but extensive technical analysis and patentability arguments along with proof reading patent claims and document that may be associated with the prosecution of the Applications.