Overview and use of Correlation Maps

We recently introduced a new method to display network mode maps in VizMAP and this blog focuses on discussing details of this map.

First, a recap on network mode maps.  Let us look at a very simple table of 5 companies vs IPC Main classes on a random sample of patents an applications on antivirus. The data in the tabular format is shown below.

 

If we represent that in network mode of VizMAP it appears as:

 

Key IPCs in the map are automatically placed in the center and company portfolios are organized around the Assignee-IPC relationship. The patents (smaller dots) are colored by Assignee and shading demarcates individual company portfolios.

Clicking on HO4L IPC Node will highlight all records that fall under this category:

As you can see few records of each Company are classified under the H04L. Now we could also shade the portfolios by IPC but that would overlap with the existing companywise shading and make the map complicated. So if you wanted to quickly see a similar correlation between all IPC codes and all Assignees without having to click on each node? That’s where the correlation map comes in. The correlation map for the same data is shown below:

 

 

The map clearly shows how many records relate two nodes and the thickness of the line is also proportional to the number of correlating records. In addition to the data in the matrix the display also shows correlation between different IPC nodes. You can restrict the map to only the type of correlations you want to see and in the process bring out a visual that perhaps best represents the matrix data.

The correlation dosent need to be just Number of common records. We can have a co-citation map in the same display where the correlation is based on Number of common citing records. For example in the Fuel Additives patent set that we created for one of our Technology Insight Reports on Fuel Additives , a co-citation map for the Top-10 companies is shown below.

 

The map clearly shows that research on Fuel Additives happening at Chevron Corp and BASF AG is strongly related.

Patent Landscaping For IP Investments

Comparable to virtually any other financial investment services based businesses like securities, commodities, stocks and asset management, IP investments (a.k.a buying or investing in strategic IP assets and associated companies) also requires access to the best information systems and knowledge platforms which form the basis of making the right strategic moves. Access to large up-to-date data sources, ability to process and analyze vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence are paramount to decision making.

So what kind of research data facilitates such actions? In many ways, research for IP investments is similar to research that is done for new product development or when venturing into a new product space.

For example, say an organization is looking to make investments in a relatively new technology that may not have existed long enough in the market place. For example CNT or Carbon Nano Tubes CNT or Carbon Nano Tubes which is making headways in the material sciences, energy and semiconductors space. While there are some figures on the production costs as well as the projected market figures on demand for Carbon Nano Tubes, it’s still an infant market and there may not be much data for calculating the traction this new material is gaining. By analyzing past and new patent application filings (including journal articles)for CNT related research, one can evaluate a true measure of research interest in CNT and correlate some of these trends along with the financial projections to get a deeper view into how this market is evolving. Breaking down the total patent set across different market segments can serve as start point for slicing it into smaller patent pools. These pools can further be broken by ownership into individual, company or group holdings and can be rated based on their forward citations and other commercial or legal factors.

One can also undertake keyword analysis to locate Technology terms or topics that are rapidly rising in the near term (Emerging technologies) is also useful when deciding which patent pools to further investigate. A detailed Patent Landscape Patent Landscape may also include analysis such as Product-Patent maps covering new products that use CNT as a core or replacement technology, patent pools mapped across a Problems vs Technology-aiding-the-Solution matrix.

While patent analysis has traditionally been related to research and development teams working on technical aspects of innovation and building IP portfolios around their products, the financial sphere is picking up and a secondary market for buying and selling patent is developing. The IP Investments sector is all about strategically driving value from intellectual property investments; be it acquiring valuable patent portfolios, licensing patent portfolios or selling IP assets.

Building On Demand Patent Analysis Capabilities – Tips For Speedy IP Insights

For most IP professionals the capabilities in terms of undertaking patent analytics to deliver broader trends within specific patent sets are determined by what kind of insights they can come up with which will support decision making, new product development, marketing and other areas. It’s a skill perfected by working with large patent sets across numerous categories over a significant amount of time and experienced patent analysts have become indispensable to the innovation driven organizations. While some organizations can hire this talent, others prefer to engage the services of professional patent analysts who can deliver patent landscapes and reports based on the requirements submitted. Important decisions are often made on the basis of these patent insights and the knowledge requirements for such data usually surface in two scenarios:

1)   Where in-depth analysis needs to be done across a number of different technology areas where multiple patent sets need to be created. These then need to be analyzed to answer several highly specific questions such as “How can the number of forward citations on a set of our patents be compared to a similar set of patents from our competitors over the past 5 years?” These insights need to be processed and delivered when ready and time is not a serious concern as they are needed more for knowledge than immediate decisions.

2)   Where quick answers or broader insights are needed quickly to have immediate birds-eye view of things before going into a decision which again needs to be made in a short time period. For example, a company going into a meeting with another company that holds patents on XYZ technology which the former is interested in licensing. Now if they need to know “What aspects of the overall technology space are dependent on XYZ technology, how active are other firms in the space and does it cover most Asian and European markets that we wish to operate in?” In this scenario, speed is of the essence and realistically there may not be enough time to engage a third party firm to carry out analysis.

The second scenario is the one where organizations that have their own IP knowledge resources and capabilities have the upper hand. It need not be expensive or complicated to build those capabilities which one can rely on to generate these on demand patent analysis. With software solutions like Patent iNSIGHT Pro , various analytics, insights and even landscapes can be generated fairly quickly when required.  As a best practice, if IP professionals within the company frequently create, store, categorize and sort through the patent sets on areas relevant to their organizations, the process of creating on demand reports and analysis becomes that much quicker.

Most time is spent not just on the analysis side of things but in locating the right patents, searching for specific data, categorizing data and re-work on the search strategy. By doing these tasks once and saving them so that they can be quickly retrieved when needed, significant time can be saved and the process of generating reports to look at broader trends or creating on-demand analysis reports can be speeded up.

For example, when we carry out research for our series of Technology Insight Reports , we first decide what kind of insights we would need from this technology. Based on this, we search through a patent database and create the patent sets we would need to analyze for the project. In some cases such as the report on LED Lighting Technology where we needed to compare LED based Lighting patent filings with that of Fluorescent and Incandescent technologies, separate patent sets needed to be created for each technology and saved. Once stored however, it was easy to go back and pull up those patent sets every time a new type of analysis has to be done.

So if speed is an important factor when it comes to building and delivering quick IP insights for your organization, focus first on identifying the patent sets and categories you will frequently require. Save them, categorize or sort them once and the rest will be simpler!

Focusing on core and managing research data efficiently during IP analysis

For IP professionals working in a patent law firm, a R&D driven company, research facility or even in a service provider, managing patent research process is plagued with inefficiencies.  With consumers of research information asking for faster turnaround times albeit with higher accuracies every professional must look into his/her research workflow and locate inefficiencies that are delaying the overall analysis process.
Based on our experience of working with researchers across a diverse set of organizations, we have split the overall activities performed by researchers into various core activities.
Core Activities Tools needed to speed up execution
Devising the search strategy Database to allow quick checking and refining of the search as the search made more precise.
Consolidating multiple searches into a common portfolio
Claims Analysis, Review and Rating, Narrowing down Generating Claims comparison charts
Claims Tree generation
Similarity search and tools to conduct advanced search (proximity/left-truncation etc) on claims
Tagging or scoring tools to mark important records as you come across them
Independent Claims exporting
Different patent text export formats including export of face pages for rapid review and scanning in a team environment
Categorizing and bucketing records Auto-Categorization to discover unique concepts and clusters present in the set
Tools to easily and efficiently create buckets and bucketise patents as you review them
Advanced search tools to dig through the data efficiently
Generating  charts, comparisons and dashboards that capture the insight you want to give Grouping and efficient slice-dice tools to accelerate the analysis process
Efficient matrix generators that allows you to compare 2, 3 or more properties at a time
Automated charting tools to convert filtered data quickly into a chart
Ready to use dashboards that allow you to gain insights and generate common analysis charts quickly
An IP research and analysis solution  can provide  IP professionals, tools to leverage at each stage of core activity execution so that they can focus on core activities without getting slowed down by procedures.
Working with IP data is characterized by working with a large input data sources and a large number of output data sources. To carry out what should be a well-researched analysis in a technology space would involve a patent database, several patent documents, patent text files, spreadsheets, working files, charts and reports. A lot of this becomes overwhelming when working only with spreadsheets. For example, the outputs alone would involve working with several spreadsheets let alone the spreadsheets which actually hold the source information and the working / analysis.  There are just too many files and data sheets to work with in different places and that’s often what makes the process difficult.
In addition to provision different analytic tools, an efficient analytics platform can also consolidate and organize these multiple files and data sheets into a single location so as to simplify management of the process.
Consolidation has been a key ingredient of the technology architecture of the Patent iNSIGHT Pro that also functions as an IP knowledge management software. From bringing together various patent databases and data sources to creating single view reporting dashboards for easy reviewing of outputs having all your data within reach from a single system alone improves the speed at which you can access IP intelligence.  It eliminates the need to navigate through several instances of Excel spreadsheets, various tabs with different data sources and multiple files across the desktop and allows you to manage everything through one interface. As a step torwards consolidating different analytics into a single view, the 360° series of reports one of the newer features on Patent iNSIGHT Pro for example, consolidates a number of report outputs into a single page dashboard view which is quicker and simpler to present and review as compared to a dozen output spreadsheet printouts which can take longer to comprehend.
If you find your IP research and associated information management process overwhelming with multiple files and data sheets across too many locations …consolidate! You will find things can become a lot quicker and far simpler.

USPTO Patent Data Now On Google

Till recently you could “Google” patents and perhaps find some of what you were looking for but just as you would for just about any other information. Now with the announcement of Google and the USPTO having entered into an agreement to make the following USPTO products available on Google there is a vast amount of patent data which has just become more accessible. With the ability to simply go to Google and bulk download large sets of patent texts, assignments, images and other information the data has been thrown open for those who can leverage it.

Although bulk patent data sourced from subscription based databases will continue to offer valuable features, the availability of USPTO data on Google is a reaffirmation that we’re quickly moving towards an age where massive amounts of valuable data is readily available for analysis. The focus and challenges are gradually moving towards the efficient management of such quantities of data and extracting exactly intelligence from it.

The development will perhaps pave way for content-driven in-house search and analysis systems that provide a destination for bulk patent data and go further in extracting insights in different ways from it. Due to the nature, format and size of the data, its unlikely to be usable directly by end users and so IP search systems that can support the formats and organize the information may appear soon. As access to patent data through open information channels increases the need to handle the IP information being researched and be able to analyze and report it quickly and efficiently becomes a priority.

With the right tools and software to manage it efficiently, this data could be an invaluable information and research asset.

Patent Litigation Battles And Victories Getting Bigger

Are patent litigation battles in courts and the rewards for being victorious in these battles getting bigger? The 2009 statistics recently published by CorporateCounsul.com sure seem to indicate this is true. The publication revealed the “top ten victories from 2009’s intellectual property litigation docket” which featured some stunning rewards within these ranks including a patent award verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson for $1.64 billion which is the highest ever recorded.

A press release on the same subject lists some of the other big victories published by General Counsel and said:

Other notable IP litigation victories that made this year’s list include:

  • A rare permanent injunction against Microsoft won by Canadian software maker i41–plus a damages award of $290 million.
  •  A major win by seven Hollywood movie companies granting a preliminary injunction blocking the sale of RealDVD, a software program that would let users make personal copies of their own DVDs on up to five computers.
  •  Versata Software’s $138.64 million verdict against German software vendor SAP AG for infringing a pair of patents covering software that helps customers manage pricing for products along complex distribution networks.
  •  A California federal district court ruling that allowed Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel’s family to recapture key rights to the superhero, the latest news in the ongoing epic battle between DC Comics and Warner Brothers on one side and the Superman heirs on the other.

It’s clear the litigation battles are getting bigger and the rewards reaped by the victors are also on the rise. For those on the other side of these litigation battles, the damages are just as big and the role of information in these battles is ever-increasing in importance.  Patent dataand access to great patent knowledge management tools and technology has become instrumental on both sides of patent litigation. Those who are looking to protect their patents and keep an eye out for infringements use extensive technology to ensure deeper insights into what is going on within their space and be equipped to take on anyone who infringe on their IP. On the other side, those seeking loopholes or spaces within the existing patents to find lucrative opportunities also need to have reliable research capabilities to avoid any traps or mines in the form of patents.

With litigation being either a battle that must be one or one that must be completely avoided depending on which side of the legal scale one is on, having a strong IP knowledge management infrastructure in place can provide an upper hand. For now, with the way 2010 is shaping up, we are bound to see some equally big legal battles over patents and equally large amounts of settlements switching hands.

An Insight Into WIPO 2009 International Patent Filings

The WIPO Patent Filings Report was published last month and at first glance 2009 seems like a year when innovation was held back by the economic turmoil especially across developed countries. Overall the report shows a 4.5% decline in filings from the 2008 figures but despite the decline, it also reveals some interesting insights into the changing face of innovation globally. Here are just some of the insights the 2009 international patent filings reveal:

Industrialized Nations Vs Developing Nations

Are the innovation efforts of more industrialized nations more susceptible to significant declines as a result of the economic conditions as compared to the developing counties? The filings seem to suggest so. While USA, Germany, Sweden and Canada showed declines of 11.4%, 11.2%, 11.3% and 11.7% respectively, China had an increase of 29.7% in patent filings.

Top 5 Counties for Patent Filings & How They Fared In 2008 vs 2009

 Electronics Dominate The Applications

The electronics industry dominated the patent filings charts with most of the top 10 and a significant portion of the top 100 featuring electronics manufacturers. Japans Panasonic Corp, China’s Huawei  Technologies and Germany’s Robert Bosch GMBH taking the top three spots.

 

Developing Countries To Look Out For

Korea, China, India, Brazil and South Africa lead patent filings from developing countries with Turkey, Malaysia, Mexico and Barbados close behind. Korea and China which were earlier looked upon more as manufacturing centers of the world are rapidly evolving to becoming innovative economies as figures show.

 

In terms of share in filings amongst developing countries, Korea and China lead with a sizable lead over the rest and competitively gaining ground over several developed nations too.

While 2009 with it’s economic significance may not be indicative of the upcoming years, the WIPO patent filings show there are some significant global implications to how the world’s innovation centers are evolving.

Analyzing Increasingly Large Patent Sets To Fuel Innovation Of Tomorrow

The backed up patent applications at most patent offices and long waits to process new applications may be annoying for most inventors and businesses alike but it amplifies just how fast innovation is happening today as compared to a decade or two ago.

Perhaps one of the most significant drivers for this pace is information technology and the instant availability of the vast existing knowledge base (patent and journal databases) for scientists and innovators to build on it. While researching and analyzing past technologies has always been a part of the process for those on a quest to discover something new, the process in the past relied on the ability to go through vast amounts of information manually, carry out analysis and then use that knowledge to take things to the next level. The same process applies today but the speed at which existing knowledge can be analyzed has been increasing tremendously.

For example, if one is looking for alternatives to fossil fuels and traditional energy sources the first phase would involve going through past efforts to understand what’s been done, then looking for patterns, gaps and opportunities within that data and finally being able to find a direction to focus your research or investigation on. Prior to advancements in text processing and software in general, this involved gathering and sifting through piles of existing patents and journal citations. However the sheer number of patents alone (> 5000) that exist in alternative energy technology as well as patents indirectly related to these, the older procedure can take weeks, months or longer

Organizing IP Research across different technology verticals of interest is a pressing need for corporate IP practitioners. A in-depth research and analysis effort which used to take a long time can now effectively done used advanced search and fast scanning tools present in patent analysis and research platforms. Being able to quickly report on different technologies, integrate feedback from sales and R&D into your IP research and present a unified output is now possible by the use of such solutions.

Knowledge management in the IP and innovation space is getting better and quicker everyday. With it, the kind of analyzed and precise information that research teams can have access to is revolutionizing the speed at which companies innovate and thereby giving them an edge over their competition. While this isn’t helping the situation at the patent offices with the back logs of applications there is still a brighter side to it for innovators: there are quick and efficient ways to get insights from large reference information sets and build a better tomorrow.

Interactive Intellectual Property Research Delivery – and Paperless too

A very recently published article by David Flint and Valerie Surgenor titled “United Kingdom: Innovators Encouraged To Go Paperless” emphasizes the calls from various governments around the world in recent times to cut down on paper intensive work processes. This measure in the UK comes just as Gene Quinn’s IP Watchdog carried a post titled “President Obama Call USPTO Filling System Embarrassing” where Gene points out:

“Essentially, President Obama said that the way the Patent Office handles electronically filed patent applications is to print them and scan them. Sadly, that is not true, or is at least extremely misleading. It is certainly true that the Patent Office used to do things that way, but since the new EFS Web system was unveiled on March 16, 2006, electronically filed patent applications are not printed and then scanned.”

The Intellectual Property research process, albeit different from patent office work, is also a data intensive one and in recent times appears to be moving towards electronic and interactive outputs as opposed to paper based reports or static PDFs.

At Patent iNSIGHT Pro, we see a similar trends. Analysts who used the product two years back to prepare reports in Word/Excel/PDFs/PowerPoint are now asking for enterprise class implementations where they can set up online dashboard for the information consumers. This is as true for in-house counsels, as it is for service providers who want to give secure access to such interactive dashboards to their clients.

When it comes to IP research, speed is of the essence as is access to those within an organization who need it. Whether needed by management, product development teams, legal team or business development teams, the need to get the information required and a live dashboard with built in analytics features of drill-down and filtering goes well to serve the needs of multiple different people. While working with static reports this is severe road block.  Usually when CxOs are presented with the research output they would have further questions and its very convenient and effective if they can quickly answer that right then from a real-time interactive dashboard.

All taken into consideration while reducing paper usage is a good enough reason to start shifting towards more automated means of managing all the research being done, it’s not the only reason to consider it. Automated delivery of research output and interactive analytics at the front end is clearly the way forward and cannot be achieved if the research is scattered across in physical documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other documents

Charge-Coupled Device – The Electronic Eye

Willard Boyle and George Smith are two innovators who just last week got the recognition they long deserved for their contribution which quite literally changed the way we see the world. The two Nobel laureates who were presented their Nobels for Physics in Norway last week invented the charge-coupled device which most of us commonly know as the CCD which is the core technology used by digital cameras today. What is fascinating is Boyle and Smith had invented the CCD 40 years ago back in 1969 and though all these years later as they collect what is perceived to be the highest accolade in science, perhaps the bigger prize was seeing how the finger nail sized device they came up with touched the lives of so many.

One of the largest impact it’s had is in the development of the digital photo camera which almost each of us own whether in the form of an SLR camera, a point and shoot digital camera or even one that’s housed in our mobile phones.  The core CCD technology is now being used in a variety of technologies and almost all electronic and appliances firms are involved in applications around it.

To see who is active and aggressive in CCD related research, we did a broad search on CCD technology and using Patent iNSIGHT Pro came up with a couple of quick stats. The first one is the overall trend across key Assignees that shows that while Samsung and Kodak have been periodically  filing for patents in this space, recent research has subsided for other large companies such as Hyundai, Fuji and Sony. One can easily see the emergence of Hon Hai precision Co as a recent company in this space.

To confirm this further, we split the company portfolios across 5 year sets (2000-2004) and (2005-2010) to compare their trends:

The above chart shows that big companies that have renewed interest in CCD and related technologies are Siemens, Honeywell, General Electric, Philips and Xerox. The activity analysis further shows some firms building targeted portfolios such as Hong Fu Jin Precision Co, Chemimage, Avision and ASML Holdings NV.

The trends of General Electric and Hon Hai Precision clearly stand out since both do not have any filings that talk about CCDs in 2000-2004 and have 16 and 68 filings respective in the last 5 years. To find out the focus areas of these filings, we used text clustering on the individual portfolios of each company. The analysis showed that the GE filings focus on Radiation detection, Scintillators, Plasma spectroscopy and X-rays. Hon Hai Precision Co’s focus was more on camera lens for imaging, monitoring and measuring across a variety of areas right from vehicular systems to cameras.

Finally, to know the different research areas in which CCD technology has grown into and their trends we took the IPC distribution again across a 5 year period and compares the growth/decay from 2000-2004 period to 2005-2010 period. This is shown below:

To sum up, forty years into the technology life-cycle, CCD is still going strong with companies across the world still discovering new applications in various areas with the help of this device.