White-spaces are gaps in a technology landscape that have potential for attaining exclusivity. Many Technology and IP managers today look at white-space analysis as one of the key methods for strategic product innovation. Using white-space analysis they:
- Refine research direction by finding new areas for innovation and exclusivity
- Enhance product-patent portfolio. Broaden scope of existing patents by locating spaces around your patent positions which should perhaps be included in your claim coverage
In Patent iNSIGHT Pro you can use a combination of user defined categories and co-ocurrency analysis to conduct detailed white space analysis.
To start with, you should be clear along which lines or dimensions you are looking for gaps. Such as – By Product, ByMarket, By Method of Use, by Capabilities or By Application or Business Area and define the exact categories within the dimension.
The white space analysis activity proceeds in five steps:
1. Conduct a broad search and create a set of patents
2. Generate keywords (terms/tokens) from the claims of patents. Use the stop-word customization and keyword generation feature to generate a comprehensive set of keywords from the claims of the patents.
3. Cleanup keywords and assignees using various tools in the software. The raw lists of keywords and Assignees can be cleaned using multiple tools such as Fuzzy matching or by applying a thesaurus.
4. Categorize (Bucket/Group) patents along the dimensions decided for the analysis. In Patent iNSIGHT Pro we call them user defined categories or UDC for short. Depending on the dimension the method of categorization will differ. For large sets of patents manual categorization will take a lot time and there are ways by which you can automate the process.
- For instance if the dimension is more functional you can map the categories to the IPC/USPC classes and assign the patents in each class to the category. (Using Portfolio Cluster Engine in Patent iNSIGHT Pro)
- As a second example, if categories can be distinguished by the use of a particular keyword in claims then you can use iterative Boolean searching to assign patents to their categories. (Using Advanced Boolean searching)
5. Look for gaps and patterns by generating the following analysis matrices:
- UDC vs IPC/USPC : Detect whether a particular classification which may represent a method of use or a class of compounds etc have not been applied to any of the categories you have defined.
- UDC vs Keywords : See what combinations of keywords have appeared in concordance with the categories. Keywords usually are a good choice since they comprehensively cover all terms, many of which you may not have thought of, and the absence of a relevant keyword in a related category is the early signs of a white-space. For instance if your dimension is by Method of Use, then such a matrix will highlight how different terms from the claims occur in various methods of Use.
- Keyword vs Keyword : For fine grained pattern and gap detection.
6. Finally, once a white-space is detected, you must conduct a targeted search across patent databases and undertake critical manual review of the patents around it to confirm the existence of a white-space.