Boost your in-house IP research capabilities while cutting down on overall cost !

My previous blogpost (Corporate IP Practitioner’s need for flexibility and transparency ) had mentioned that a combination of a patent analysis platform such as Patent iNSIGHT Pro with a patent database can make a powerful and yet cost-effective solution to your needs for flexibility and transparency while accelerating activities that usually eat up most of your time. Let me elaborate on that here.

With the current downturn in economy, chances are that you would be dealing with IP or R&D budgets cuts and your key concern today is to ensure that Intellectual Property research and analytics activities continue to deliver greater value to the management, the R&D and Licensing/Business Development while addressing the increasing needs posted by M&A, Litigation and Open innovation during these cuts.

Due to the variety of Intellectual Property research tools and databases in the market, its difficult to understand what tools would fit your need. Most experienced researchers say that since each tool has been designed from a different perspective, there isn’t one database or tool that can help address all your needs. So when trying to optimize your IP tools expenditure the question that arises is: Which tool or tools meet most of your needs ?

Now while your top-level analysis projects may be Infringement analysis, Freedom-to-Operate, White-Space & Gap Analysis, Portfolio mapping or Competitive Landscaping, they all boil down to unique IP procedural needs. Here is a quick IP research and analysis process need checklist that you can use to map out your needs:

  1. When searching, I want to quickly search across a wide set of patent offices
  2. I want to setup alerts on key interest areas, companies, classifications or inventors.
  3. I want to organize my results according to folders of my choice and need full flexibility in grouping, filtering, categorizing the records
  4. I want to generate highly flexible tabular and descriptive reports in Office documents such as Word and Excel so that I can customize them further
  5. I want to size up the results quickly to understand key patent biblio. parameters such as Assignees, Inventors, IPC/UPC spread, citations and their trends across the years
  6. I would like to keep one record per family for some analyses and treat all family members as individual records for other
  7. I want to categorize technology result sets into my company’s internal categories and then use that for further trend analysis in combination with other parameters
  8. I want to leverage text-mining tools such as clustering and fine-tune it to generate meaningful clusters/topic from the text of patents
  9. I want to analyze not only at cluster/topic level but also at “Keyword” level so as not to miss out even a single technology term
  10. I want to analyze related content such as legal status, family information, litigation history along with patent data
  11. I want to generate customizable charts and graphs with ease and would prefer interactivity such as drilling down within a chart
  12. I want to assign my own internal ratings (such as commercial importance, legal threat, technology relevance, business risk) to the patents and then use the for further mining and analyses
  13. I want to leverage algorithmically pre- calculated metrics for a quick sizing up the portfolio. (E.g., of such metrics are Portfolio Age, Technology maturity, Citation index, Science index)
  14. I want advanced interactive visualizations such as 2D landscapes, Heatmaps, Treemaps, Citation trees, Family trees and other newer ways to represent complex informational relationships
  15. I want to combine external data such as financial information, commercial information, technologies-up-for-sale information in my analyses

If you have checked more than four of the items above then your needs extend beyond patent searching, and you have three main options available in the market today:

Solution 1: An offline analysis solution (such as Patent iNSIGHT Pro) with capability to automatically integrate data from free online sources and commercial sources
Solution 2: An integrated analytics driven database
Solution 3: A database + offline analysis solution

Solution 1 – An Offline analysis solution

Pros: Flexibility, Comprehensiveness, Customizability, Cost Effective
Cons: No alerts, Needs time to build your analysis portfolio, No pre-calculated metrics

This option is good if you do not require instant analytics results since preparing your analysis portfolio can take a couple of hours or more depending on the whether you are working on hundreds or thousands of patents. With such an analytic solution you may not have alerts since the analysis is conducted over your result set. As a result, this option meets 75-80% of the needs listed above.

Solution 2 – An integrated analytics driven Database

Pros: Quick Analytics; Pre-calculated metrics can be helpful on occasions (esp. for valuation studies)
Cons: High Cost, Coverage may not be as good as a specialized searching database; Pre-calculated metrics can be highly objective and non-transparent, lesser flexibility for those who want to drive the analysis process as per their needs

The definite advantage here is being able to search and quickly view pre-calculated analytics over the search results. If you are looking for answers at a relatively broad level and especially if you are considering analytics towards portfolio valuation or rapid portfolio evaluation then this is an option worth considering. These solutions may loose out on the flexibility you need and on occasions you may have export values to Excel and then pivot out to the exact answer you want. As a result, this option again meets 75-80% of the needs listed above.

Solution 3 – A Database + Offline analysis solution

Pros: Quick Analytics, Cost Effective, Coverage, Flexibility, Comprehensiveness, Customizability
Cons: Lesser number of Pre-calculated metrics

This option may not provide as many pre-calculated metrics but by using a specialized search database you capitalize upon extensive worldwide coverage and all the tools you need to build the right search set. You can then export these results quickly into an offline analysis tool for detailed and dully-flexible analysis. Some pre-calculated metrics may not be present but if you do not rely or require these then this option offers you the maximum amount of features and meets 90-95% of the needs listed above.

And finally the cost…
Per prevailing market rates for IP products and databases Option 1 can cost you between 2500-8000 USD depending upon product and its capabilities. Option 2 can start from 12000 USD and can go upto 50000 USD while option three gives you maximum capabilities and still costs you between 8000-12000 USD again depending upon the type of database and analysis tool.

To sum up, doing a thorough research on the possibilities and capabilities of different solutions and understanding their price-points can help you increase the depth, quality and efficiency of your IP operations and yet reduce your overall IP tools cost.