Strategic Advice

Analysis of patent strategies, competitors and technology fields

Today keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing is as essential to your continued commercial success as keeping up with what your clients want.

One way to look into the future is to analyse your competitors' patent strategies because their patenting activities will clearly highlight the next steps they are planning to take. Moreover, analysis of your competitors' strategies will also give you a valuable insight into what they have decided to concentrate on in terms of future developments.

As well as staying abreast of your competitors' activity and spotting potential new markets, an analysis of patent filings in specific technology fields will help you identify new business opportunities. If a high or, at least, increasing volume of patents have been filed in one technology field within a very short time span it usually means new and lucrative technology is developing in that area.

Our software

At Prinz & Partner we have developed our own proprietary software. It has been designed specifically to allow us to perform in-depth analysis of patent portfolios and technology fields in-house by mining patent data from patent databases.

To make it more than just a search tool we added all of our practical experience and legal knowledge during the development phase to make sure we only generate the most relevant and precise results for our clients.

The advantages of having our own unique software solution are simple. As the results are ours, we completely understand the underlying assumptions and the meaning of every figure in the analysis. This means we know exactly how to use those results to the best commercial benefit of our clients. Furthermore, our software gives us access to a set of data that has never been seen or considered by any other provider of patent analysis.

If you would like to try out our software yourself, please click the link below. This will take you to the demo version which includes some sample diagrams created by our own software, alongside our interpretation of and the insights taken from these diagrams.

To the demo version

Our approach

There are already a number of ways you can obtain statistical analysis of patent databases, whether that's via software or via a service provider. However, the majority of these evaluations do not go beyond diagrams of data that was already publically available. The benefit you will take from these evaluations is therefore always going to be somewhat less than insightful.

We believe there is much more to the analyses of patent strategies, competitor activity or upcoming technologies than just a pretty graphic showing open source patent data. Firstly, the bulk data from patent databases has to be pooled; then it needs to be put into the correct context so you can extract meaningful commercial intelligence. Once it has been combined and contextualized, you then need a patent expert to interpret the data and draw the conclusions relevant to the commercial development of your business.

As this is our software we have been able to underpin it with our knowledge of how patent law applies to business in the real world so that the underlying algorithms classify what is really important. This means we know exactly what assumptions have been made and why and just how significant each figure is to the final analysis. It also means we can combine the data and uncover dependencies that may have gone unnoticed beforehand, despite the fact they could significantly influence your results.

However as patent attorneys the single major advantage we have over commercial service providers is that, because of our training and client work, we are best qualified to interpret the economic developments our analysis will uncover. This means we can provide more valuable and more insightful commentary on the causes and background influencing those developments.

All of these factors combine to deliver a totally sound and fact-based analysis of your competitors' patent strategies, of your own portfolio and of your chosen area of technology. With our analysis, you will have the information you need to identify new opportunities, avoid any potential pitfalls or simply to save you unnecessary R&D or legal costs.

Example:

The whole strategy at a glance



In this overview of a patent portfolio you can see all of the important information on the filing strategy at a single glance: The dark blue bars represent all of the priority patent applications within the same patent family. The light blue bars show where there have been one or more counterpart patent applications. The grey bars represent the European application that have been validated. The orange bars show the utility model applications that establish a family. The yellow bars show where there have been one or more attempts to file counterpart utility model applications.

You can see that the company changed its strategy at the beginning of 2010. This is likely to be because before 2010 most EP applications were filed in order to obtain IP in Europe whereas after 2010 their protection in Europe will be obtained by making national applications at the German, French and British Patent Offices. As a result the number of applications they have made at the EPO has been reduced to almost zero.

During almost the same timeframe the amount of PCT-applications has also reduced though the number of international counterpart applications hasn't changed at all. This type of change in strategy can lead to a large reduction in fees as application proceedings at the EPO and PCT-applications are both very expensive.

In addition, the diagram shows that while the portfolio's owner's interest in Russia and Mexico has declined since 2008, from 2010 the Brazilian market has become more important to them. Our summary is that the company's current strategy is well-balanced and efficient because expensive EP and PCT applications have been eliminated and their filing strategy now focuses on filing in the USA and Asia.

How healthy is my portfolio?



This diagram shows the demography of a portfolio; the chronological development of all of one company's patents and patent applications (either in force or pending) in DE, GB, FR, EP, US and CN in that year. The patents are divided into age groups so you can see a picture of the demographic structure of the portfolio.

As you can see the portfolio was built up between 1982 and 2010 but today the owner of this portfolio has a problem. He lives off the large number of applications made between 2006 and 2010 and even though the portfolio is not decreasing in size overall, it has clearly matured. As the majority of the current patents are more than six years old, the company needs to put more effort into innovation and research if it does not want to lose its market position.

The diagram also shows that the administration of the portfolio has been neglected because the number of patents that are or are more than ten years old is continuously rising. The company could therefore save costs by abandoning any patents that are no longer needed. 

Specialists in this field