Is the Patent Research & Analysis Process Overwhelming Your Organization?

A common challenge we have seen across organizations who have access to reliable IP information and intelligence from various patent databases but find it overwhelming to integrate, manage large volumes of patent data, organise various ongoing research and investigation projects and to quickly locate answers to their questions. The solution to this lies in having a comprehensive patent research and analysis platform which can make it most of your activities much simpler. Here is a 60 second Slideshare presentation which highlights this challenge. Be sure to catch the link to our 7 minute webcast video at the end of this presentation!

 

The Battle On Software Patents Continues – How Would You Resolve It?

It’s everywhere! Blogs are buzzing with opinions and views on it, Twitter is flowing with tweets and references to it and IP professionals, innovators and the software industry are glued to  In re Bernard L. Bilski and Rand A. Warsaw v. Kappos  where the battle for patent rights for software and in particular business methods has turned into a war of sorts.

Some of the large stalwarts in software such as IBM, Yahoo, Accenture among many have shown strong support for extensive patent rights for software.  Several other smaller software firms, developers and organizations like the Free Software Foundation see software patenting as detrimental to progress and future of the software technology industry. Gene Quinn of IPWatchDog.com in his post went a somewhat fresh route and not just backed the need for software patents but also insisted that star-ups and smaller companies have a lot to gain from filing patents for their software technology in his recent post  “Why All Small Businesses Need Software Patents”. The battle on whether software patents should be allowed or not is a tough one with arguments both for and against this idea.

Those against it argue software code is logic and mathematical and the current patent system is just not equipped to handle such an issue. It’s almost like Twitter can make a claim they invented the “What are you doing now?” component of the application which allows people to update what they are doing through their software and claim “this is code” they used and it should be protected from others using their idea. Someone like Facebook however could claim that they already had this feature as part of their application where people could update what they were doing and share it with friends long before Twitter and their code though different was the original claim to this innovation. The arguments can go on endlessly and further innovation and development of software can be hampered if every single software component some developer programmed were to be patented and off-limits to other software not to mention how much more expensive software could become if every such component had to be licensed to create a working application.

On the other hand there is very little advantage for a true innovator or first mover in the software field and very little protection from the large players. For example if a smart developer invents an algorithm which can help identify and recognize objects and details in graphic images like photos and wants to monetize this through building a full application and creating a start-up, it could be just a matter of time before some large player like Flickr or Microsoft discover this and have their R&D departments replicate the technology perhaps with different code. In this system, those with the marketing might or large pockets to buy smaller players benefit without the real innovators being rewarded proportionately. That alone makes a fairly strong case for software patenting.

Whichever side you take, there are compelling arguments and there is no doubt that if a race for patenting software inventions starts, it will have a long term impact on the industry. It could change the way we develop software or at least the approach development. It would mean rather than simply checking for copyrights and licenses for certain applications or components, businesses will now have to study and analyze all patent sets around their project to look out for liabilities and possible infringement cases before getting behind the screen to start coding. It’s still important to consider the software industry can’t easily be compared to the pharmaceutical industry or the automobile industry where patenting and IP protection have been an inherent part of their world. Yet, this new industry has developed at lightning speed and the stakes are high for everyone involved. Though this battle is not over, the way it finally turns out will depend heavily on public view and everyone’s opinion.

So what is your take on it? Should extensive software patenting rights be granted? How would you see this battle resolved?

Delivering Key IP Asset Intelligence To Technology Management Decision Makers

Management of technology and research relies on being able to make the right decisions at the right time which in turn depends on the quick availability of reliable information. Whether deciding on strategy like what direction the innovation and research arm of the business should take and which are the areas the competition has left room for improvement on to tackling issues like finding the right people to develop a certain technology or to license a component from, the management responsible for products, research, development and technology need a constant birds eye view of not just their own IP assets but also a clear perspective of the competition and the wider technology landscape to steer the business in the right direction. This landscape however is constantly evolving with others in the market also on a quest to innovate and develop and protect their intellectual property along the way creating the need to have access to fresh information promptly when needed.

From what we have observed, the common challenges that companies face with developing a robust process of IP information delivery to management for decision making are:

  • They have access to a large amount of patent data in the form of database subscriptions, downloaded documents and online sources but it’s unorganized and every time they need to analyze the data for a new question or requirement management asks, they need to search through the data, gather the relevant documents and pages and then locate what they are looking for which is a long process that is often repeated.
  • They have a lot of patent data related to their technologies or domain but find it challenging consolidating all the right data so they can start analyzing it and present only what is relevant to the managements questions.
  • They find what they are looking for after analyzing the patent sets required to answer questions and they understand the answers but find it challenging to present it quickly and simply to management in a form that they can understand as clearly. They find communicating what they see within the patent sets to others difficult.
  • The time taken to process all the data and generate answers is often too long which is why they prefer going by existing reports or previous information which may be available online through searching websites rather than generating fresh reports from the latest databases on demand.

For example, let’s assume a pharmaceutical company has had plans for quite some time to develop a certain drug for a specific heart disease made some breakthrough but came across delays in the process of testing and clinical trials. In the few years the drug was under testing and not ready to hit the market there is a possibility that others may have been pursuing a similar direction of research and new patents may have come into force since creating hurdles for the launch of the drug. The management can’t rely solely on what they knew at the time they started the research. They need quick access to fresh information to see the road ahead at every stage of the technology management process and make decisions. That view of the technology landscape they need exists in patent databases but needs text mining and analytic support to bring out that clear perspective needed for them to make those decisions.

At any given time in the process, management may need some specific questions they need answers to quickly to make their call. What are the competing technologies in their domain? How many other businesses are interested in this technology? Which markets already have players for this technology and where are the gaps that can be filled? Where are the potential licensing opportunities for what we develop? Who are the researchers or innovators who can help us develop what we are looking to create? These are just some examples of questions management need answers for and turn to their patent information to have them answered. Through a clear cut process of:

Search & Retrieval > Clustering > Data Clean Up > Analysis > Report Generation

Vast amounts of patent data can be mined, queried and analyzed and converted into precise visual reports that are easy to comprehend in a matter of minutes. Patent analysis software which can process this allows for quick process of intelligence delivery to upper management whenever needed. As useful as the process is to management, it can prove just as valuable to scientists, innovators researchers and product development teams to present their suggestions and cases for certain decisions and being able to back it up with visual presentations and valuable insights gathered from the data.

Equipped with the right software, the challenges of being able to generate and deliver decision making intelligence to management as well as the technology and research teams can easily be overcome. We all tend to rely on what is easily available. Once the right information is made easy and available, relying on fresh reports and insights becomes a regular practice and the technology management function becomes that much more effective.