Here’s why you should invest in a Commercial Patent Database
Patents are often early indicators of new technology, and patent searching and analytics can bring insights for any business from inception to monetization. Millions of patents are filed globally every year. 5.36 million patent applications were filed worldwide in 2018 itself, according to a search conducted on PatSeer. Patents help to understand emerging trends, how to compete in a marketplace, or quickly bring new products to market. Patent information is freely available on National and Regional patent offices and many free-of-charge patent databases.
A commercial patent search software, however, reduces the time spent on searching across different sources, gives you access to improved data coverage, quality, and translations, provides better search functionalities, helps finds meaningful relationships, gives graphical perspectives and deeper insights and generates actionable reports.
Let us look at key reasons for investing in a commercial patent database from the point of view of different stakeholders.
Innovators – For companies whose business is driven by innovation and in-house R&D, you will require regular patent research at different stages of your product lifecycle.
In the Pre-development phase, identifying existing innovations to avoid duplication of research is essential in a technology you plan on working. It would help identify gaps and give direction to your research. It will shed light on competitors and their activities, licensing opportunities, mergers, and collaboration.
The same is also true for a start-up with limited resources to invest in Intellectual property rights. As a start-up, you need to figure out if the idea you are developing is original, or incremental improvement or using a technology that might not yet be in the public domain. If you disregard this, you may not even know you have a problem before the launch of your product. Check for freedom to operate early on. Doing a patent search at the initial stage will help you decide whether to patent the idea, work around existing patents, take required licences, wait for the patent expiry, or docket the pending patent applications for regular legal status updates.
Once your research activity is narrowed down and the invention developed, conducting a patentability search can help you determine the novelty and inventiveness of the invention. It is to ascertain whether to pursue patent protection and what issues might arise during patent prosecution.
Throughout your product development and commercialisation lifecycle, you also need to have a competitive patent monitoring strategy to closely follow competitor’s tactics and predict their future moves. It enables you to plan your strategy, improve your product and services, assess new threats like new competitors or mergers and acquisitions of the competitors, and potential infringement.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your patent portfolio is essential for any innovator company to stay ahead of the competition. Are you filing in proper countries? Are you spending unnecessarily on patents that might not be relevant from the point of view of technology or company goals? These questions can be answered easily by the analytics capabilities of a patent database.
Non-innovators – Non-Innovators include big, small to medium sized-firms or start-ups, with little or no focus on patent filing, but only applying existing technologies. E.g. – generics or biosimilars
Patent searching is no less significant if you are a non-innovator company, although the practice may be less frequent and mainly to assist in decision making.
You need to know which markets you are free to practice your product or process. It is essential to keep monitoring abandoned, expired, or lapsed patents. Expired patents, for example, are valuable for a pharmaceuticals company. As soon as an innovator drug patent has expired, a generic manufacturer can manufacture and apply for approval to sell the product. You can also find useful technologies in inactive patents to help solve problems in your product.
A landscape search will help you to look out for upcoming technologies to make products from your existing setup, find solutions to your technical problems by looking at patents in your technology domain or identify, and acquire patents that may be blocking the entry of your product/process into the market. If you are a large company that is not patenting aggressively or not investing in R&D anymore, competitive patent monitoring can help you use patent information to find technologies you can licence to augment your products or services or identify companies for mergers and acquisition. One of the famous examples of this is Google. Earlier, Google was not filing as many patents as others like Apple. But Google’s acquisition of Motorola mobility in 2011 added a vast patent portfolio of around 17,000 patents to its kitty. The patent data can give an indication about a company’s patent assets before merger or acquisition, like their innovative quality and commercial value.
Investors or venture capitalists
Patent searching and analysis can provide investors with invaluable data for identifying and valuing companies or products to invest in. When evaluating an investment opportunity you can conduct an FTO search to check the marketability of an idea, more so if it is already in the public domain. You can carry out landscape studies to identify emerging technologies and their importance.
If you are a research institute, your main emphasis is knowing the state of the art in a technology area or how specific technical areas have evolved and in-depth technical know-how of the same. Academic or research institutes heavily rely on academic literature surveys ignoring that most technological advances are first reported in patents. Insights from patent landscape studies can help guide their research. So does patentability searches during the pre-development stages of their invention or after completion. Some commercial databases also provide non-patent literature search, so a patent database is an ideal single platform for research institutes. Patent searches can also help find industrial partners who might be interested in your technology and convert your prototype invention to a commercial product.
PatSeer provides a Non-Patent Literature Search interface having access to prominent science and engineering databases like PubMed, Agris, AGRICOLA, DOAJ, MDPI, ClinicalTrials, and CrossRef.
Legal firms/IP service providers/Patent Offices
Legal firms, professional IP service providers, and Patent offices are at the forefront of the patent prosecution lifecycle for all the stakeholders because of its complexity. Their opinions and inputs are of the utmost value for their customers or inventors. People may lose their IP because of errors in the application or searching process. A comprehensive patent search and analytics database is a handy tool to rely upon, to manage all the different types of IP work.
To summarise, the need for patent searching and analytics spans so many different types of stakeholders, although in different ways and at different levels, from ideation to monetisation. Without the appropriate tools or solutions, patent searching and analytics, patent competitive intelligence, portfolio management is likely to be inefficient in addition to being tedious because of vast amounts of data and cross-functional teams involved. A good tool would be the one that can digitalize and therefore allow search in most data fields, allow in-depth, instant, and easy analysis, and most importantly allows different stakeholders to share and collaborate their views in one place. If you are any of the above stakeholders, investing in a patent research platform that provides a one-stop solution would be the best investment decision you could make.
PatSeer is a web-based, AI-driven global patent research platform with integrated analytics, project workflow, and collaboration capabilities. PatSeer Projects allows multiple collaborators (R&D members, patent analysts, counsel) to work in a centralised environment to carry out analysis and provide business insights with various tools needed by a Patent Researcher such as Custom Fields, Hierarchical Categorization, Patent Dashlets™ and, Scoring. With a wide range of sharing and permission settings, it doubles as a web-based collaboration platform between you and your colleagues and/or customers