The trend of keeping R&D professionals from being exposed to patent information on a need-only basis is reducing as companies realize that product innovation today requires more than just the strategy of applying innovative thinking.
Till date, popular reasons for having research teams to not look at patent data have been patents research can – bias the innovative-thinking of inventors, reduce possbility of a “willful infringement” being proven in the event there is a future infringement case and finally, result in increased number of prior art reported in new patent applications.
More and more senior R&D professionals such as Technology Managers and Product Heads are turning to patents to refine their R&D strategies. They want to make sure that the teams are not wasting research time re-inventing the wheel and if research is to hit a patent wall eventually then its better to research alternative approaches from day one. Open Innovation is also to be driving this shift as R&D teams collaborate with individual inventors, universities and research institutions and tap external IP for their products. They are inclined to buy (or license) a portfolio of strong patents available from such sources rather than invest into research and generate workaround approaches.
Doing so, allows companies to bring their products faster to market, reduces research dollar wastage, decreases risk of engineering failure and improves quality of new patent applications and overall patent portfolio.
For leveraging IP insights technology managers need more than just search results. They need to create portfolios (either by company or by technology) and analyze them. Patent analysis solutions play a significant role here for R&D Managers allowing them to:
- build competitor portfolios and analyze then for threats, gaps and to map their research directions
- build technology portfolio and mine them for trends, insights and white-spaces
- analyze citation sets for technology evolution, portfolio strength analysis or to locate who may be building up on their portfolios
- look into existing portfolio to identify redundancies and non-core sets
Product innovation requires closer integration of IP Strategy in day-to-day decision making. Decisions such as where to spend R&D dollars, which direction to take existing products into and what research areas to exit are core to any technology driven company and must have IP as one of the key considerations.
Patent analysis solutions such as Patent iNSIGHT Pro can help technology managers gain actionable insights from IP. We are seeing a growing adoption of the solution amongst senior R&D professionals and assume that the trend is reflective of the fact that day-to-day technology decisions are increasingly based on intelligence from patent data.