Will the next generation of patent outsourcing transform the patent landscape?

Since the development of the modern patent system, corporations, institutions and inventors have filed patents as a means of safeguarding their personal and corporate interests. Patent intelligence platforms have widened access to understanding of market intelligence and trends through patent data. These platforms help to aggregate data sets of patents from global and regional forums to give consumers a more holistic view of the tech landscape, revealing competitor threats, technological trends and advancements in their field. These macro trends are known as patent landscapes.

Over the past decade, the creation of advanced machine learning, AI engines and computing power has transformed the tech landscape. Using patent intelligence as one of the primary sources of data to help focus the direction of R&D, platforms and services that leverage AI engines can help IP and R&D teams build a stronger understanding of the technological ecosystem.

In the past, landscapes were typically formed using structured data from patent information due to its uniformity. This data was extracted (often from multiple sources and forums) and painstakingly cleansed and normalised. From there, the manual categorisation of patents, secondary citations and pivot-style charting and graphing was used to help draw meaning from the data set. Due to the amount of effort, resources and costs required, the outcome and effort was usually questioned.

However, as sources of alternative data become available, this in turn has led to multiple problems with regard to traditional methods of patent landscaping. The re-emergence of defensive publishing by large corporations and institutions continues to be a false indicator in patent-only landscapes. Large organisations, which file applications for the sole purpose of obtaining a publication and do not take the examination process to grant, muddy the waters in an effort to protect their competitive positions. It is therefore unsurprising to see large groups of published applications with no later corresponding grant, similar to strategies employed and documented with regard to Kodak/Fuji.

Further, in ultra-competitive, fast-growing markets, patents can lag as an indicator of tech trends, as applications are published an average 18 months after filing. Historically, non-patent literature and journals, among other non-standard source files could not be co-located in the same set of valuations, let alone paired with patent information. For this reason, a thorough understanding of leading indicators of market trends, often found in non-patent literature only, has historically been left off traditional landscapes due to the difficulty of incorporating both patent and non-patent literature into one corpus. This has hampered the true directionality of macro trends and competitive intelligence.

With growing requirements from corporations and institutions around the globe to continuously be on top of changes in the market, having multiple sources of both real-time and historical trend data has become a baseline requirement for informing strategic decisions. Gone are the days of relying solely on patent information – instead, institutions and corporations are looking for aggregate sources of data to be indexed and normalised to provide them with a more holistic and accurate picture of the market. Further, organisations continue to raise the bar and have come to expect more precision when curating macro trends. Modern landscape studies now use non-patent literature as part of their original creation of taxonomy, allowing for the curation of trends to be influenced and supported by real-time shifts and analysis.

Partnering with large multinational conglomerates and global regulatory bodies has highlighted the need to integrate both patent and non-patent literature datasets to create a custom taxonomy in all tech landscapes. The integration of both of these datasets enables use of leading, instead of lagging, indicators of information, allowing these organisations to pivot quickly and to obtain access to meaningful information faster. In the patent and defensive publication game, being agile and moving quickly from either a defensive publication standpoint, or a commercial strategy standpoint, can earn or save a significant amount in future litigation fees.

While not all corporations and institutions have the in-house resources to support their overall landscape requirements, this issue can be outsourced – there are a growing number of solutions and services providers available to support the expedition of projects. This allows strategists and analysts to get answers to complex business questions faster, achieve a greater return on innovation investment by efficiently channeling their resources and separate the signals from noise for effective market and patent research.

The future of tech landscaping involves integrated solutions that allow for interactive, not static, delivery of trends, and results, allowing companies to obtain the information they need, faster, and in real time. The future is dynamic, interactive and it is here to stay.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of IAM's co-published content. Read more on Insight

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