JiNan Glasgow George
What aspect of your work do you find most fulfilling – and why?
We help innovators to transform ideas into assets by using Patent Forecast data to expand the invention into strategic areas of commercial opportunity. Invention capture sessions with inventors and companies are always illuminating. Connecting innovators to the resources they need to make a commercial impact is also fulfilling – particularly when working with early-stage and growth companies. Sometimes they need funding or growth capital financing; at other times, what is required are connections to other organisations or people with specific expertise and capabilities. One of the most fulfilling areas has been sharing information about Patent Free Zone opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors in emerging markets. Since most companies do not file patents in all areas globally, those emerging markets do not usually have to avoid exclusive rights from third-party patents. However, using patent data from the US market is absolutely free. Further, because every patent is an inventive solution to a problem that is published, there are a wealth of ‘free’ R&D solutions that may be used in countries where corresponding patents have not been granted. This is an exceptional perspective on using patent data in new ways to accelerate global commercial positive impact.
How has your management style evolved over your career, particularly over the last year of remote working?
Everyone has had to address new challenges within the last year of remote working. I have adopted a more flexible style, while encouraging everyone on our team to remain fully connected and fully expressed, even if some are not able to be physically present in the office. I enjoy seeing people in person and my collaborative work style has evolved over time – even our office has evolved to a more open office structure with quiet rooms for writing or online meetings. Communication with clients and within our team is essential. It is one reason that we work on a flat rate fee structure, because billing hourly for legal services often has a chilling effect on communications with clients: they might not call or email a question if they are weighing the cost minute by minute. More communication is always better for understanding client needs and getting to the heart of inventions.
Which of your cases or matters has been the most memorable and why?
All of our clients are memorable in their own way, but the work we have done over the last two years with 6P Color has been particularly exciting because we have created a valuable portfolio covering expanded colour gamut technology, which will transform the way that people view images. Their demonstration using NASA footage from space is absolutely amazing!
What are the biggest challenges facing your clients at present?
Fundraising for growth companies has been challenging when clients cannot travel to connect with investors in person. It is still happening, but some connections must include face-to-face meetings, particularly for larger deals. That is one reason we have now had eight years of Eclipse IP Futures Conference, and this year we had about 100 in-person participants and over 150 online for the livestream. There is no substitute for in-person networking for building relationships around compelling and provocative content, stimulating conversations, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting here in North Carolina.
How are developments in AI and machine learning shaping the US IP ecosystem?
There is so much ado about nothing – so far – with regard to AI being categorised as an ‘inventor’ in certain patent applications, but I think that we are seeing more impact with data analytics and predictive insights. Our Patent Forecast software uses AI to identify trends across all technology sectors, from hi-tech to biotech. We have already seen commercial results in terms of faster issuance for new patent applications for clients using our data. It is game-changing for new portfolios and even new companies to have that advantage.
If you could make one change to the patent analytics space, what would it be – and do you think it is likely to happen?
First and foremost, it is unhelpful to have so many offerings that claim to be analytics but that are merely patent statistics. Substantive analytics is at the core of what patent attorneys need to create valuable patent assets that are differentiated from prior art. Substantive analytics informs patent portfolio valuation, not just high-level comparative stats. Patent Forecast software uses machine learning and AI to create dynamic sectors for context research and analysis. Our visualisation is key, namely interactive diagrams that are updated weekly, which is real time for patents, and that allows high-level assessments for trends in investment by companies over time, as well as technology and science evolution. We are always striving for content-dense visualisation improvement. Clients and analysts need to interact with the data and software should be flexible. Our Patent Radian is helpful, because clients can view high-level trends but drill down into Patent Matrix claims diagrams and full patent text and diagrams. More advances in visualisation would help to make patent data and analytics accessible to business leaders, not just patent attorneys and analysts.
How has the US patent landscape changed over the last 10 years?
We see more international investment in US patents and expect that to continue. While we operate in a global economy, the US patent landscape continues to hold the most valuable IP assets because of the market and reliable courts for enforcement when needed. In terms of specific areas, we have seen high growth in every sector incorporating AI and blockchain technologies. It is exciting to observe new areas emerging over time. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), tokenisation of securities and other assets, quantum computing and quantum communications, blockchain and AI are just a few of the areas that have experienced explosive growth. AI now operates across sectors, much like nanotechnology crossed sector boundaries in previous decades. Wireless communication and mobile computing have given rise to economic ecosystems that have shown enormous growth in inventions and investment in patents.
What advice would you have for any US tech start-up looking to secure its patent portfolio?
Take a complete inventory of your IP assets before starting, including key people on your team. Document your product roadmap – what is upcoming, not only what you think you have invented today. Develop a patent strategy that is aligned with your business strategy. Consider any invention in context: prior art research to assess patentability is critical. Data informs likelihood of success but using the data to differentiate from prior art within the description of the invention creates a more robust specification and more valuable patent assets. Patent data and analytics also provides competitive intelligence and stimulates more creative thinking, consideration of alternatives and patent portfolio development.
What technological advances are having the biggest effect on your practice?
Perhaps the small things have the greatest impact. In the last two years for my law practice, Neo IP, web meetings with clients through Zoom have made our interactions more efficient and our team more productive. They have helped us to stay connected with clients when travel was not an option. Of course, with respect to our Patent Forecast software, AI and machine learning have had the most impact for our software. We have now increased efficiency and productivity with analytics that enables our team to focus on the legal heavy lifting, rather than search and preliminary analysis.
You have been a significant force in promoting the use of patent analytics to drive value – how can companies make better use of these tools?
We believe that patent data and analytics can inform business activity and decision making, only if it is accessible and presented in real time, not months from an enquiry or search. Investment in patents always leads commercial activity, therefore patent data is a rich source of business intelligence. The key is communicating the value and insights to leaders who are not patent attorneys. Once they are aware of it, they cannot afford not to use it.
JiNan Glasgow George
JiNan Glasgow George is founding partner of Neo IP, a patent firm that transforms ideas into valuable assets using proprietary Patent Forecast data to drive strategy and business value. Neo IP connects innovators to the resources they need – equity investment and growth capital, monetisation connections and collaborative partners. Ms George believes that everyone has the power to create. Her work focuses on transforming ideas into reality and creating positive commercial impact from them.