Patent Landscape Report on Autonomous Car-Control Mechanism/Driverless-Car

Introduction

This patent landscape report categorizes and graphically analyzes research trends around the mechanisms, anti-collision system and braking technologies used by a driverless car from various perspectives and highlights the key companies involved.

IP Analysis

This Patent Landscape/Analysis Report on Autonomous Car-Control Mechanism / Driverless car will showcase the filing trend, top companies, research activity around the world, technology landscape and much more. Details report can be found on Patent iNSIGHT Pro websites reports section.

Filing Trend

What has been the publication trend for Driverless car?

The chart below shows number of filings for driverless cars during the last 30 years. The number of filings has steadily increased since 2000 with a minor fall in the number of filings during 2008-2009.

The overall trend has seen constant rise in the number of filings with sudden rise from the year 2011. From 40 filings in the year 1986 to nearly 700 in 2013, driverless cars have seen tremendous increase.

It’s clear the current activity around these technologies is likely to continue seeing more innovation in the near future.

Patent Filing Trend_Driver-less Car

Top Companies

The top companies in Autonomous Car-Control Mechanism are:

1. TOYOTA MOTOR CORP
2. NISSAN MOTOR CO LTD
3. ROBERT BOSCH GMBH
4. HONDA MOTOR CO LTD
5. DENSO CORP
6. GM GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES
7. HYUNDAI MOTOR CO
8. MANDO CORP
9. MAZDA MOTORS
10. DAIMLER AG

11. FORD GLOBAL TECH LLC
12. HYUNDAI MOBIS CO LTD
13. AISIN SEIKI CO LTD
14. VOLKSWAGEN AG
15. CONTINENTAL TEVES AG
16. BMW AG
17. FUJI HEAVY INDUSTRIES
18. MITSUBISHI MOTORS
19. HITACHI LTD
20. VALEO SCHALTER UND SENSOREN GMBH

The complete Assignee table is available in the Excel file here.

Research activity around the world

The below map represents the geographical filing of patents relating to driverless car technology. The table below ranks top priority countries and helps provide an indication of where innovation in this area is originating.
Toyota which is the leading entity in driverless car technology makes Japan the leading country in this field with 3089 families followed by Germany (1432) and US (915). The strength of the coloring represents the proportion of patent publications.

Research_activity_acrossworld_driverless_car

Technology Landscape

The contour map below represents key concepts for different companies across various mechanisms used in a driverless car.

Clusters for Cruise Control and Propulsion and the records relating speed of the vehicle namely Wheel Speed Sensor and Steering are close to each other as there is high degree of relevance between the records present in those types of methods. The patents represented by dots were coloured by company.

Contour

The entire report is available for download here: Patent Landscaping – Biochips

Patent Landscape Report on Biochips

Introduction

This blog categorizes and graphically analyzes biochips from various perspectives such as the fabrication techniques, methods involved, biochip types and applications and highlights the key companies involved.

IP Analysis

This Patent Landscape/Analysis Report on Biochips will showcase the publication trend,  top companies, research activity around the world, company activity across application, biochip types vs methods, technology landscape for methods and much more can be found on Patent iNSIGHT Pro website reports section.

Publication Trend

What has been the publication trend for biochips?

Innovation around biochips and resulting patent publications started to show up from 1986 with a spike in 2002. It’s clear the current activity around these technologies is likely to continue seeing more innovation in the near future.

Patent Publication Trend for Biochips

Top Companies

Top Companies researching in Biochip

The top companies in biochips are:

1. MERCK PATENT GMBH
2. SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD
3. UNIV ZHEJIANG
4. SUMITOMO BAKELITE CO LTD
5. COMMISSARIAT ENERGIE ATOMIQUE
6. UNIV TSINGHUA
7. IND TECH RES INST
8. TEA INST CHINESE AGRICULTURAL

9. YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP
10.SUWA SEIKOSHA KK
11. JSR CORP
12. KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS NV
13. UNIV SOUTHEAST
14. UNIV BEIJING TECHNOLOGY
15. KOREA ADVANCED INST SCI & TECH
16. SAMSUNG ELECTRO MECHANICS CO

 
The complete Assignee table is available in the Excel file here.

Research activity around the world

The table below ranks top priority countries and helps provide an indication of where innovation in this area is originating. It shows perfect indication of where innovation is taking place. It can be seen China has 1201 filings (INPADOC Families) followed by US and Korea with 629 and 565 filings respectively. The strength of the colouring represents the proportion of patent publications.

ResearchActivityAround The world for Biochips

Company activity across Applications

  • The chart below shows research activity of companies across different applications
  • Merck leads the research around Biomarkers and Organic Semiconductors
  • Rosetta Genomics leads the research for diagnosis of cancer using biochips, it also leads the record count for Hybridization
  • Nucleotides and Gene Diagnosis are the application areas wherein most of the companies are present

Company activity across Applications for Biochips

Biochip – Types vs Methods

In the map, different types and methods are connected through links whose thickness and color intensity is directly proportional to the number of records relating them. The number (in red) next to each line represents the number of records present in the respective category. It can be that Gene Expression and Electrophoresis are the methods where DNA chips are used the most.

Also, ELISA followed by Gene Expression is more often used by Protein Chip for diagnostic purposes. Similarly, Thin Layer Chromatography and Magnetism are exclusive to Protein Chip and DNA Chip.

Biochip Types vs Methods

 

Technology Landscape for Methods

The contour map below represents key concepts for different companies across various methods where biochips are used.

Clusters for Internal Radioimmunoassay, Immunohistochemical and Immunofluorescence are close to each other as there is high degree of relevance between the records present in those types of methods. The patents represented by dots were coloured by company.

Contour Map for Biochips
The entire report is available for download here: Patent Landscaping – Biochips

 

 

Innovation and R&D Picks Up

As companies leave the worst of the global recession behind them and economies with the help of stimulus packages from their respective governments are starting to pick up again there is acceleration in R&D and innovation as well.  News and blog posts in the innovation realm look positive with more frequent stories of spending on R&D is gradually picking up. Reports suggested that investment on R&D during the recession did increase even during the recession although at a lower rate than previous years. This post by Mark J Perry titled Despite Recession, Innovation Is Alive and Well. In the post Mark reveals

“In the face of a severe global recession, the world’s 1,000 largest publicly traded corporate research and development spenders increased R&D budgets in 2008, affirming the critical importance of innovation to their corporate strategies, according to Booz & Company’s Global Innovation 1000, the global management consulting firm’s fifth annual analysis of global innovation spending. R&D spending at these firms rose 5.7% in 2008, a slower rate of growth than the prior year’s 10% increase, but in line with the group’s 6.5% increase in worldwide sales. More than two-thirds of the companies included in this year’s Global Innovation 1000 maintained or increased R&D spending in 2008, even though a third of the companies reported a financial loss for the year.

However during the downturn almost every business had to look into it’s processes and make changes that would help see them through this rough financial period and whatever those changes were, they are not likely to go away in the near future. Mergers and Acquisitions in IP pickedup as many smaller firms facing closure had their IP up for sale. While some large businesses were also looking at trimming their patent portfolios others with a larger cash reserves were busy aggregating portfolios that were valuable and available for pennies to the dollar. Many IP departments were forced to look at operational efficiencies and as to how they can save time and cost and achieve better output. Innovation and R&D are no exceptions to this. Although organizations know that innovation is key to secure future success and will continue to invest in R&D, they are also likely to continue to look for ways to improve their R&D processes and innovate smart rather than by pouring capital into it.

Smarter innovation practices can be through using online collaboration platforms and getting customers more involved in the process. It can be through seeking strategic partnerships with other organizations working towards similar technologies to share R&D costs and speed up efforts. It could be through improving patent information sharing systems and having access to better information, making smarter, better calculated decisions and avoiding mistakes that can cost time and money. The possibilities are plenty. What is left to do is find out how to innovate smarter and strengthen the process from the inside and make it more efficient. After all innovation needs to work towards creating revenue and advantages for the business and not be perceived as a cost center or financial black hole.

Perhaps the recession in many ways helped organizations pause and take a look at how they were functioning and pushed everyone to seek improved ways to go about it. Though the pressure has eased, hopefully, the will to keep improving and making R&D more efficient will not fade away too quickly.

Going Green Calls For Collaborative Innovation

Every year a spike of innovation marked by an increase in patent filings happens in one or more of the several industry segments and creates a buzz grabbing everyone’s attention. This year one that comes to attention instantly is going green. The global initiative on battling climate change has gathered tremendous momentum this year as compared to the past and combines with several other environmental issues faced globally such as depleting mineral energy resources and waste the emphasis on innovation to work towards environmentally friendly technology and sustainable businesses has reached a new level.

A recent news article on Green Energy Reporter  said:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted some 271 clean energy patents during the third quarter of 2009, which is the highest amount of approved patents in a single quarter, according to the latest Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) compiled by law firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti.

While companies across the globe are stepping up their research and development efforts to step up discoveries of greener energy sources, finding solutions to the issues we face is not just restricted to energy. CleanTechnica.com published a great article on how leading footwear manufacturer Nike has been using innovation and collaboration to develop footwear and apparels out of sustainable and recyclable material while making it financially viable for production as soon as possible. An extract quoted Nike in that article said:

From Nike: The long-term vision for Considered is to design products that are fully closed loop: produced using the fewest possible materials, designed for easy disassembly while allowing them to be recycled into new product or safely returned to nature at the end of their life. By 2011, 100 percent of footwear will meet baseline Considered standards, apparel by 2015 and equipment by 2020 – creating better performing products while minimizing environmental impact by reducing waste, using environmentally preferred materials and eliminate toxins.

Organizations have set themselves very tight deadlines and understand they are working against time when it comes to “going green”. That means the research and development organizations have to step up the innovation, look for ways to tap ideas from universities and external teams (Open Innovation) and move quicker. Researching internal generated IP and external IP is a key information driver for Open Innovation.

How you organize all the researched information is as important as conducting the research since you can quickly hit information overload. Having the right Intellectual Property Knowledge Management system is important for a better organized, more efficient process. Being better organized involves improving workflows and  improving management and communication of analyzed information to the decision maker in minimum time. Well managed patent data can help tremendously in the research process, understanding what competitors are doing, finding collaborators working in a similar direction, acquiring technology needed to speed up the process and more. You can then make internal workflows quicker and efficient and easily share data involved in the innovation process both within departments across the organization and outside with partners or third parties involved.

The race against time to develop greener alternatives to the way we function today will require the best minds to come together in a quest for solutions and thereby compel companies to come together, work collaboratively, share information and innovate.  That calls for organizations to be more open about IP research and have systems that can scale to support research happening locally and externally.

Nokia Vs Apple iPhone The Patent Battle Intensifies – Where Is The Reward For Innovation?

In telecom circles everyone is following the patent infringement battle between Nokia and Apple with keen interest on how it pans out. Nokia claims Apple infringed on no less than 10 of it’s patents related to wireless standards with the launch of the iPhone and no royalties or licensing fees have been paid by Apple till date. What started out as a competitive strategy battle has made it’s way to federal court and the battle has intensified having the online users everywhere support their favorite cell phone manufacturers and having their own little war on blogs and web publications. The Silicon Valley Insider ‘s Business Insider published a post titled “Lame Nokia Sues Apple Over iPhone Patent Infringement “ making their view clear in support of their home team Apple but it questions whether their stand would be down played had the tables been turned and Nokia used Apple’s Multi-Touch technologies in their line smart phones clearly taking away Apple’s innovative advantage. Calling a company “lame” for protecting or enforcing its IP may be a little over the top.  After all aren’t patents a strategic advantage rewarding innovation?

The cell phone manufacturing industry has always been one driven by innovation with the companies which have been able to think out of the box and innovate being rewarded with market share. There was a time not too long ago when Motorola was the force to reckon with. Although their market share gradually diminished and they lost out to other handset makers, their intellectual property rights portfolio has long out lived and out-performed their handset sales as companies today still license many core components which were invented and patented by Motorola.  Virtually every handset manufacturer has had to build their new products by licensing some components or technologies from others patents. What is not very clear and yet to come out is whether Apple missed these patents while developing and launching the iPhone or if they were aware that they were open to patent infringement claims and decided to ignore it till something came up.

In any technology intensive industry it’s not impossible to miss patents which should have been brought to attention during the research and development process or during product development and marketing. Patent research and competitive monitoring data is often managed by multiple people across departments using a multitude of databases, systems, software and vendors. IP research and analysis for new product development can get quite unwieldy without a comprehensive patent system and process for managing workflows and tracking patent sets and it isn’t all that difficult to overlook technologies and their underlying patents that could be very important to have noted. Here is an extract from the post carried by the Business Insider which can put things into perspective:

During the last two decades, Nokia has invested approximately EUR 40 billion in research and development and built one of the wireless industry’s strongest and broadest IPR portfolios, with over 10,000 patent families. Nokia is a world leader in the development of GSM technologies and its evolution to UMTS / 3G WCDMA as well as wireless LAN, which is also demonstrated by Nokia’s strong patent position in these technologies.

With 10,000 patent families to track and keep an eye on from one manufacturer such as Nokia and likewise many patent portfolios held by other manufacturers in the same space the possibility of patent infringement liabilities is ever present as are the odds of overlooking important patents which could come back at a future date in the form of lawsuits or claims.

Apple in comparison is relatively new in handset market and has already broken ground with its superb UI innovation capabilities which is evident from their iPhone product. The Multi-touch technology which has been patented is just one of those innovations and as Apple’s portfolio grows over time other handset companies will have to keep tabs on Apple’s patents and may find themselves with horns locked in a similar situation some day. While many will base their opinions on whose phone they like better or who their favorite cell phone manufacturer is, the battle is about innovation and the ability to protect IP. In sum, businesses that innovate should be rewarded for their efforts.

Patent Analysis Tools For Intellectual Property Law Firms – The IP Intelligence Advantage

Access to the best possible intelligence is the backbone of any practicing law firm and investments in research and information enhancement capabilities often translates directly into being able to build strong cases for clients. There is no exception to intellectual property law firms when it comes to building intelligence assets.

Most ongoing engagement with clients requires a law firm to have access to quick insights from the set of patents relevant to the case. Insights from having records in a research and analysis platform can immensely help the engagement at different stages.

Here is a quick summary of how patent analysis tools can assist external attorneys in their client engagements:

  • Firms can efficiently manage IP records that are being researched as part of different client engagements. Searches being done internally or being received from external service providers can be integrated into a common portfolio where the attorney can conduct finer review, refinement and analysis.
  •  Attorneys can quickly open these portfolios in front of a client during a meeting to back up the advise or insight being given.
  • Patent analysis tools can help attorneys focus on the legal review aspect and spend less time in preparing data and results to to support ongoing litigations.
  • For most clients, patent text is often quite raw and technical in nature and perhaps not suitable when making a clear statement. Solutions with good analytics and reporting capabilities help present the data in a very clear graphical or tabular format which helps law firms bring out the facts plain and simple in a fashion that makes sense to end users.
  • Advanced Search Capabilities in tools like Patent iNSIGHT Pro, include features such as SLART (Simultaneous left and right truncation), Approximate searching, Quick similarity matching between Claims across full text of other records can be very useful when conducting infringement and patentability studies.
  • Tools such as keyword generation and clustering that summarize very specific words, sentences, phrases and even topics within patents could offer a huge advantage when drafting new product application in a congested technology space. ( Here is an earlier article that spoke about how keyword analysis can be done on claims.)
  • Ability to narrow down and efficiently analyze the right patent set  can help conduct preliminary research before filing for new applications for clients. It allows law firms to know of any objections or obstacles patent officers might have even before starting the application process.
  • Many small and  mid-sized technology firms that do not have internal IP research capabilities increasingly rely on external counsel for advice on overall IP strategy. Having the right tools to detect infringement, monitor competitor information, study trends, track recent activity and gather crucial facts is critical for such engagements.
  • Ongoing Litigation activity also requires data to be analyzed and presented suitably in the court as evidence to back a claim.

Access to intellectual property and patent information per se is not difficult. Being able to have quick access and answers to very specific questions and being able to retrieve facts with speed and ease is what can offer IP and patent law firms the upper hand in their daily practice and the right patent data analysis software can help unlock this advantage.

Key Features of Patent Analysis Tools

Patent analysis tools though all geared to deliver information and intelligence around patents are often different in terms of their features and capabilities. How do you know what features to look for in a solution that would help your organization? Here is a brief overview of the various important features found in most comprehensive patent data analysis tools and  what components to look out for during the evaluation process.

Search Capabilities

In most cases the search has already been done on a database, so why would you want search in an analysis solution? Searching is usually a requirement for custom portfolio categorization and further its critical when conducting deeper analysis such as infringement or FTO. Even when looking at a chart, its important to be able to immediately drill-down from the chart and search through the segmented portion to get to the answer or insight you seek. Finally, many a time you have your custom fields such as  Docket Ids, tags, comments etc associated with each record and you would like to include these in your search.

Patent Text Mining functions

When working with sets of 10000 records or more if you want to quickly understand what locate topics of interest or sometimes even understand which topics are prominent across the set and what sub-topics they are associated with, a powerful tunable auto-categorization engine is a must.Solutions that are created specifically for mining and clustering patent text are better suited than more general text mining solutions. Generating keyword lists and using such list for statistical analysis is another popular method used to gain insights on trends across companies, inventors and their patents.

Analytics Capabilities

Some of the capabilities that should be covered are co-occurrence matrices, generating top 10/20/50 lists and  citation analytics. Together they help analyze relationships and spot trends within a certain space and lifecycles of technologies and more. Drilling-down to the actual patents from any of the functions is key.  It’s always good to get a few analytics questions that your organization has, tested and verified using the analytics capabilities so that you are sure if the solution is up to the task of handling your patent intelligence needs.

Charting and Visualization

Converting the results from patent analysis into a powerful visual or graphical representation with ease is a definite must. In many cases exporting visuals to image files is  critical so that they can be reused in your reports or power-points. A good visualization and reporting component helps convey the insight easily without any need for explanation. Powerful visuals necessitate actions from the information consumers typically senior management and result in swift decision making.

Reporting

Generating different styles of reports to suit varying needs across an organization is perhaps the most common activity. Support for a wide range of flexible report types is useful with output format as word or excel so that the user can modify the report as per needs after it has been generated.

User Interface & Ease of Use

There is always a fine balance between having a feature loaded analytics software tools  packed to the brim with options and one that is easy to use even for  someone with relatively little experience of patent information. A good solution in this respect is one that has a relatively easy to use user interface which one can get familiar with in a short time and at the same time have the flexibility and options to allow the user to customize features, options and the environment that they will be working with regularly when any patent analysis has to be done. A very easy to use interface may not always give you that flexibility and range of customization while an extremely complex interface may defeat the purpose and make the process of analyzing data more tedious rather than easier. Look out for an interface which gives you both ease of use along with flexibility of options.

Apart from the above some of the other capabilities to look for are data export features, associating your own custom fields with patent data, rating or scoring system and performance at 10000+ record levels.

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 WIPO 2009 Report – Interesting Patent Statistics & What Do They Imply To Your IP Intelligence Requirements

September 18th 2009 marked the end of a two day international symposium for IP heads by WIPO. Based on the 2009 World Intellectual Property Indicators report by WIPO which was also recently released we can only guess there were a number of important issues to discuss including the impact of the global economic crisis and recession on the filing of new patents across patent offices around the world. Though the report doesn’t  indicate exact figures, it does mention there was a decrease in the total number of patents filed for the year 2008 although over 760,000 patents were issued during the year and 1.85 million patents filed. Surprisingly, ASIA was more resilient and has been seeing steady growth in South Korea and China which grew 23.9%.

The patent statistics within the report create an insight into the global trends in terms of innovation and highlight several interesting facts around patent activity around the world. This information is particularly interesting for us at Patent iNSIGHT Pro since we work with patent data analysispatent reports and statistics every day. These are the kind of findings which give businesses and innovators the insight needed to know what is going on around the world of intellectual property. It helps draw visible conclusions based on analyzing thousands and even millions of patents and present the findings in a simple easy to understand reports and graphs. Each finding implies something  useful for some business or innovator around the world based on their field or business.  On their own, there are plenty of interesting facts published in this year’s report which you can read here. As the name of the report suggests, the value lies in what the findings of the data analysisindicates and what it implies to your business.  Some of the interesting statistics published in the 2009 WIPO report with regards to patents include:

“The five largest patent offices (China, European Patent Office, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America) accounted for 69% of total resident filings and 81.5% of non-resident filings in 2007. The high ratio of non-resident filings compared to resident filings is partly due to the fact that all patent filings at the EPO are considered as non-resident filings.

In 2007, the largest number of resident filings originated from Japan, the United States of America, China and the Republic of Korea. Between 2003 and 2007, resident filings of Japan declined by 1.8% per year. In contrast, resident filings of China and the Republic of Korea grew by 28.1% and 9.3% respectively.

There has been a steady increase in the total number of patent families during the past 15 years. The total number of patent families (based on first filing date) in 2006 amounted to 946,498, representing an 8% increase from the previous year.

During the period 2002-2005, patent applications in the fields of computer technology, telecommunications and audio-visual technology had strong growth, with the annualized growth rate surpassing 6%. In contrast, patent applications in the field of biotechnology have gradually decreased over the same period.

Medical technology accounted for the largest share of foreign-oriented patent families for Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The largest number of foreign-oriented families originating from France and Germany were in the field of transport.

In the field of telecommunications, applicants from Finland, Sweden, Republic of Korea and China have an above average concentration of foreign-oriented patent families. Applicants from Singapore and the Republic of Korea have a high concentration of foreign-oriented patent families in semiconductors. Applicants from European countries have an above-average concentration in the transport and engines, pumps and turbines fields.

For the first time, a Chinese company (Huawei Technology) topped the list of applicants with the highest number of PCT filings. Panasonic Corporation (Japan) and Philips (Netherlands) were ranked second and third. US universities dominated the list of top PCT applicants for the university sector. The University of California filed 345 PCT applications. Tokyo, Seoul National, Imperial College and Osaka are the four non-US universities in the top 20 list.

All these findings may be viewed to imply something to various businesses and innovators.  To a business located just about anywhere in the world which is looking to protect their IP interests in markets around the world the first finding on the offices with the most non-resident patent filings may imply that these five are top priorities for filing new patents going by the general trend of others. Based on this report they may want to initially file patent applications within these markets to start off with and then review the other countries which accept less than 20% of the total applications.

Similarly, a business or innovator working within the telecommunications technology space, may want to first protect their IP in countries like Finland, Sweden, Korea and China being above average concentration of foreign-oriented patent families. The same report also implies that there could be a much greater potential for licensing patents within these countries for anyone holding patents for telecommunications technology and displays revenue opportunities in these countries for their innovations.

The WIPO database holds a wealth of information which could be extremely valuable for smarter well informed decision making for businesses. This particular report shed some light on what is going in general with IP around the world. A macro view so to speak but there is so much more the data can tell with regards to highly specific areas of interest. With the right analysis software tools you can look into useful facts that pertain directly to your area of interest and gather intelligence that helps make better decisions. The database of over 63 million patents which are already in force around the world is your ocean of data to explore. It’s up to each one to discover what are the indicators they would like to track based on their IP intelligence needs

Citations In Patent Data And Why They Need Your Attention

A friend of mine who is an avid blogger shared an interesting story of how he landed himself in a tight situation just last week.  He received an email over the weekend from the owner of a copyrighted image he used on his blog without his permission and was now threatened with being sued and facing a fine for violating the copyright laws mentioned on the owners website. This came as a big surprise since he found the image on popular photo sharing platform Flickr, contacted the owner to seek permission, confirmed the photo was published under the “creative commons license” and made sure he complied with every requirement including giving credit to the owner with a link to the original photo and yet now he finds himself in a soup. It turns out, although he sourced it from Flickr respecting every rule and following the right process, the photo was originally copyrighted on another website and another photographer had claims on the image. Despite all precautions and doing nothing wrong, there was practically no way knowing how many people had claims on that image or coming across their websites and tracing the path of the ownership sources.

Luckily for him, it was a clear case of him being lead to believe the image was free to use just because someone else had published it under that license but our discussion on the fiasco brought about an interesting point. He said to me “I contacted the person I thought was the owner and did everything right, how was I supposed to know who had claims on the image before he published it and perhaps who owned it even before that guy?”

Now that’s where we can draw a parallel between his situation and the thousands of us who work with intellectual property and patents. Patents, unlike copyrighted images, have citations and there are several situations where innovators and researchers need to take the time to research patent citation history just to make sure they do not infringe on existing patents. Yet, many a time they find themselves in a sticky situation much like that friend of mine where a competitor or (worse) a Non-practicing entity (NPE) / troll sues them for infringement.

Today, having a strong portfolio of patents behind a successful product is good but not enough since there still lies the threat of NPE’s and trolls whom you cannot counter-sue. Companies with a portfolio of patents in a technology area must look at backward citation mining in addition to regular search when conducting infringement/FTO analysis for their own patents in order to identify risks to their portfolios. Going one generation back ‘(G-1)P’ from your portfolio ‘P’ is not enough and you must go at least 2-3 generations back or (G-1)(G-1)(G-1)P and then go forward from there. A comprehensive backward citation research would perhaps include {(G-1)P,  (G-1)((G-1)P),  (G-1)((G-1)((G-1)P)),  (G+1)((G-1)P),  (G+1)((G-1)((G-1)((G-1)P)))}. The same technique also applies to Invalidation Research and can help locate critical invalidating prior art for a blocking patent owned by a competitor or someone else.

In citation research, patent volumes tends to quickly become unmanageable if you are working with a larger group of patents and looking through all the data for specific relationships. Citation analysis is one such area where these relationships need to be seen clearly so that nothing is overlooked and the researcher has a very clear picture of everyone who has patents and claims on anything that they are working closely with. Patent data analysis software such as Patent iNSIGHT Pro comes with citation analysis components which can create citation trees and clearly display those links in a graphical format which is easy to interpret. Using both forward and reverse citation graphs one can see clear relationships across a group of patents and the chances of missing important citations is greatly reduced. Multi-generation citation sets can be created from a starting point which itself can be a single patent or a whole portfolio. These citation sets can be compared easily via intuitive tables and charts to help both quantitative analysis and a more minute claims analysis.

Apart from infringement or invalidation research, getting an overview of the history of and invention across a time line and following its evolution and usage can provide valuable R&D insights that can help make better product and research strategy decisions while also making clear the pattern of ownership and inventors associated with the work.

Despite the clear differences in copyrights and patents, citation analysis which provides insights that can help minimize unpleasant surprises like my friend had. With the right tools, it is possible to look deeper into the data and see the broader picture with a group of patents. It can help avoid any oversights and potentially expensive mistakes which were not intentional but just happened. While one perhaps can never to enough homework on IP data, it definitely pays to be as careful, calculated and informed as possible.