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Who’s Who in the IP Zoo: Putting Patent Landscape Reports to work

Published

September 7, 2021

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Patent landscape reports are a very useful tool for businesses, but how? That is the focus of this article: to explain why these reports are valuable and how a small or medium-sized business (SME) can leverage the data in them to achieve market-level success.

Before we can talk about the value of patent landscape reports it’s important to understand what they are and why the large body of research actually exists. Simply put, it is a survey of patent rights in a defined group of technologies. These reports are your ‘who’s who’ of a given competitive space.

For those who aren’t familiar with landscape reports, their utility can be explained by using board games as an analogy. These reports tell you who is in the game (those who hold some patent rights), who is on the sidelines (those who are in the market but don’t have many pieces on the board), and combined with a competitive landscape analysis, can highlight opportunities in the space that might not have been apparent otherwise. In business terms, the report tells the reader who the patent holders are within a specific technology space as well as who the key players are in that competitive landscape.

The datasets in these landscape reports provide both a birds-eye view of a competitive landscape and insight into what strategies other competitors in the market are potentially employing. The landscape presented in these reports showcases the pace of patent filings and other activities happening in a particular patent technology space.

Why should you care about the pace of patent filings in a certain competitive landscape? By looking at these filings and what specific technologies they are related to, we can identify filing trends.

You might be thinking, “okay, but why should I care about what the filing trends are?” To use another board game analogy, imagine that you are playing the game ‘Battleship’ against a friend. For those that have never played this game before, each player has 5 ships that they place on their individual board and the aim of the game is to guess where your opponent’s ships are located on their board. In this case, filing trends would be the equivalent of being given strong hints about where you friend’s ships are located.

These filing trends can be used as indicators of what the IP Strategy may be for individual competitors in a given market and they can also reveal underdeveloped technology segments. This is helpful as a starting point for further analysis and informing next steps around business opportunities, roadblocks, and areas for further review.

Now that we understand what patent landscape reports are used for, we now need to talk about why you should use them. The objective in building these reports is to paint an overall picture within a technology sector. This helps SMEs (you) highlight emerging trends, identify key areas of development, and find white spaces. For those wondering, the term ‘white spaces’ is used to describe opportunities in a technology sector. These opportunities can come in the form of an underdeveloped technology segment or innovation to an existing segment that has not yet been implemented.

Patent landscape reports also provide commentary on other organizations and their innovation tactics by looking at the strategies that have been adopted in different market areas.

At Innovation Asset Collective, our patent landscape reports help our members better understand their competitive positioning compared to existing patent owners and market leaders. The goal, through these reports, is to inform research and development direction, IP generation opportunities, and accelerated insights to guide an overall business strategy. The findings in these reports can also provide information that both supports and drives your current IP strategy.

What you are looking for in a patent landscape report will have an impact on the lens with which you analyze one through. It goes without saying, but it is difficult to find something if you do not know what you are looking for. Keeping this in mind, you must first understand what information you want to know before reading or commissioning a patent landscape report.

One important thing to know about patent landscape reports is while they can be a valuable business tool, they are also both costly and time consuming to create. The broader the landscape; the more expensive it will be to have a report commissioned.

When creating a patent landscape report, you could say that the data is in the details. The way in which data is organized is key, as it will inform you of the scope and the outcomes of the report. How the patent data is organized in these reports is just as important as the data itself. It defeats the intended purpose of a patent landscape report if the data is not organized in a way that extracts the most relevant information for the reader.

Performing quality landscape studies requires a high level of expertise and understanding in this area. Taxonomy creation and data collection require a systematic approach. One of the limiting factors for SMEs to perform landscape studies in-house is the lack of expertise in this area.

The word ‘taxonomy’ refers to a system of classification in which research findings are organized to provide a better understanding of an industry and its different segments. Using another analogy; the categories that are created when the taxonomy of a report is being established are like the different colours of paint that make up a bigger picture. Though we create the categories by which data is organized, they already exist within the space that the report covers.

When IAC starts preparing a taxonomy, we look at not only the type and scope of patent data we want to collect, but also how the industry is structured. Much market research is completed beforehand to put together a sketch of the taxonomy. Key value chain pieces are identified and help formulate what technology segments are associated with each.

Patent landscape reports act as a broad sweep of the marketplace, which SMEs can use to identify white-space opportunities and upcoming technology trends in a particular space. Exploring the landscape data sets from a business planning perspective requires discussions on topics such as technology areas, the scope of patents searched, the geographic area selected, whether expired patents were identified and if the technology is in the public domain. This is exactly what makes these reports so valuable. Through extensive patent research of a particular space, IAC’s team compiles these reports which contain a host of information that is displayed in an easy-to-read way for SMEs to then apply to their existing IP and business strategies.

IAC Members have the ability to dive deeper into the data sets with the IAC team to extract more detailed information from our reports. IAC can work with your company to help analyze subsets of data from the reports, and develop smaller targeted landscapes that will support your ability to grow and scale. IAC works with our members to better understand their needs and have them reflected in our reports.

For IAC Members, our detailed patent landscape reports can be viewed on our member portal at ipcollective.ca.

If you’d like more information about IAC’s patent landscape reports, or want to learn about IAC Membership, complete the information request form or send an — email directly to Rasha Shamat, IAC’s Business Development Manager at rshamat@ipcollective.ca.


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