Creating and maintaining technology portfolios

As a technology driven company, your business either revolves around a core technology in case of a startup or around multiple technologies and products for a large corporation and chances are you would be already accessing patent information from a patent database. However, if you are serious about IP and its role in your technology strategy you need patent mining and technology landscaping over patents not just restricted to your company’s patent portfolio but over all patents related (both directly and indirectly) to technology space you are in.

The success of in-house patent mining activity largely depends on – what you analyze, how you analyze and how you communicate the analysis to those who need it. A fundamental activity that provides a base for all of this is having a well maintained technology portfolio. Lets call it a “techfolio”. Formally defined, a techfolio would be a constantly updated set of technology records- patents and journals stored in a platform which makes it easy to analyze them in many different ways when required.

How to create and maintain a techfolio? The overall process is not as difficult as it may appear. The steps to create and maintain a techfolio can be as simple as:

  1. Start with a good patent and journal search
  2. Integrate your results in a common analysis medium
  3. Setup alerts on your search strategy and update your techfolio from time to time

Start with a good patent and journal search
Perform a state-of-the art search for the particular technology over patents and journals in the technology space. If you are an R&D professional without much exposure in patent searching, it is advisable to involve a professional searcher for this step.

Integrate your results in a common analysis medium
The analysis platform where you integrate your results plays an important else the process may become cumbersome and frustrating. Too often the underlying analysis and storage platform or medium is Microsoft Excel, raw SQL database or perhaps a generic text mining solution. Since these are not specifically designed to suit techniques for technology analysis, you either end up spending too much time writing Excel Macros, SQL queries and doing all those things which make you say “there has to be a better way!”. Generic text analysis solutions that do not understand patents and its special characteristics such as Priorities, Families, Claim structure, Legal Status and other unique bibliographic fields would perhaps do more harm than good.

Setup alerts on your search strategy and update your techfolio from time to time 
Constantly updating a techfolio can become cumbersome and repetitive but solution providers can help you automate alert integration and thereby making it easy for you to keep the techfolio up-to-date.

A well maintained techfolio can save a lot of time by avoiding repeat search work for each internal project. You can mine (categorize, slice-n-dice) techfolios for different reasons at all stages of your product/technology development and commercialization and apply those insights for R&D strategy, licensing, M&A and business development.