Patent Landscape Analysis
(Also known as State-of-Art Study or Competitive Technical Intelligence Report or White Space Analysis or Technical Gap Analysis)
A patent landscape, as the name suggests is a study which aims to give a single platform overview of a particular field providing multiple insights to decision takers. In simple words, a patent landscape uses a large set of patents to extract relevant information useful for understanding a particular field and all of which is view able in a single file or a dashboard.
The insights derived may be one or more of the following:
- What is the filing/publication trend (time wise) of patents?
- What is the filing trend (technology wise) of patents?
- Who are the top assignees or key players (player here is a term used for any patent filer such as a company, a college or other academic institution, a research unit, a Government funded organization) within the technology and what are their technology wise trends?
- Who are the top inventors working in a particular technical area?
- How is research for the technology spread across different countries? What are the different categories into which the technology can be divided into (taxonomy) and what number and what kind of patents have been filed in those categories? What are the white spaces or technical gaps in a technical area?
- What are the different inventions evolving over the years in a particular field?
- What are the technical details provided in each of the patent extracted for the landscape?
- Which companies are filing how many and what kind of patents?
- What is the geographical distribution of patents filed specific to domain or specific to a player?
- What are the key/unique patents filed in a particular domain or by a particular player?
- What are the R&D areas a company is focusing for future production?
- What is the quality and area of research carried out by a University?
Essentially patent landscapes are of one of the following two types or a combination thereof:
1. Domain Focused – Patent Landscapes Analysis
If the initial set of patents are recovered based on a patent search focused on a technical domain:
These landscapes are used to understand a particular domain better by using patent literature and derive the various insights based on the patent cluster extracted. These searches are used essentially by R&D and product development teams.
A state-of-art study is carried out based on a domain focused landscape wherein the recent technologies developed over last few years are uncovered and scrutinized for further research.
A white space analysis is also often carried out based on a domain focused landscape wherein the technical areas with low or no patent filings are identified which act as white spaces in the technology for further research.
2. Player Focused – Patent Landscapes Analysis
If the initial set of patents are recovered based on a patent search focused on one or more players (patent filers such as companies, colleges, research units, and Government funded organizations):
These landscapes focus on what types of patent filings are done by particular player(s). It is equivalent to IP profiling of the players to closely monitor their research and business interests by looking at their patent portfolio.
A Competitive Technical Intelligence (CTI) is carried out based on a player focused landscape, where a company is continuously monitoring the patent activities of one or more of their competitors. This helps a business keep their teams informed and well directed towards understanding and targeting their current and future potential market.
The player focused landscape is also carried out during M&A (Mergers and Acquisition) project where a company’s patent portfolio is used to calculate its value in terms of intangible assets and its worth to the businesses product and process portfolio.
Patent Landscape Analysis Case Study:
A mobile company SMG keeps a track on the activities of its competitors by carrying out CTI based landscape. They observed that multiple patents have been filed by one of their main competitors in the area of touch screen technology and SMG also wanted to develop their strength in that area (player focused).
They then conduct a state-of-the-art study in the touch screen technology for the past 5 years, and observed that there is a white space in the area of ‘high sensitive finger touch response’, since most other technologies focus on the stylus based touch(domain focused). In the landscape they observed that one company TMV has filed a few patents on the finger based touch interface.
SMG then carried out another landscape to study all the patents filed by TMV. It was seen that TMV has worked on the software end as well as the hardware end of the technology and has 3 granted and 4 pending patents surrounding the technology. SMG then acquired the company TMV and used the technology to manufacture high end finger touch sensitive mobile phones which became extremely popular in the market.
Patent Landscape Key Aspects and Best Practices
- In a landscape, the patents to be analyzed are always categorized in a series of technology based hierarchies and categories under a scheme often referred to as taxonomy. Further, information buckets are used in the landscape study to provide details pertaining to the technology covered in the patent relevant to the landscape, retrieving the relevant data and inputting it against the bucket is called as bucketing.
An exemplary of a basic taxonomy for a landscape project on renewable energy may be as follows:
The bucketing information may be as follows:
- A patent landscape may involve analysis of a single member per family if geography based insights are not sought.
- Landscapes are ultimately used as reports and overview sheets where trends and charts form an important part of landscape reports/ studies.
Patent Landscape Analysis charts few examples:
- Bibliographic Details (Filing, publication and priority dates; family members; legal status; IPC/CPC/USC, Inventor name, Assignee/Applicant name, etc.) are often included in the landscape for reference and filtering purposes
- Searches used to extract analysis set for landscape are often broad to cover wide range of patents in a technical area and not restrict searches to specific inventions
- For a Competitive Technical Intelligence, an assignee or applicant normalization can be done to get accurate insights
- Since Landscape is a single platform overview comprising several patents and information, multiple projects are often derivable from a single landscape