25 November 2021

News

As a patent owner or a company driving innovation, you more than likely spend a bit of time researching or filling patents to protect ideas. Once granted, the value of a patent lies in the ability to generate a return for your work in contributing to the innovation cycle. Typically, these assets can be monetized by enforcing your rights through patent litigation, or by licensing or selling your patents to others. Other IP owners find themselves on the other side of the coin and feel there is no need for monetization – only the need for defensive IP protection (where return-on-invest is generated by securing their own products and services).

While monetization and protection are typically the final intent with IP, we often overlook the full story of what patents can tell us. Patents can show us the R&D efforts of specific players and where their focus lies for new technology or products. They also can be used as a metric to identify when specific markets are going to take off or slow down. Patents also tell us when companies fail, since owners file for inventions thinking they are new but in reality are not. This happens all the time and lives in public records in patent offices worldwide. Patents are more than legal documents used to protect ideas, they serve as a map to when and how society will be innovating.

It is important to remember patents protect inventions, not products. Companies may be doing business in the US but the patents may cover an invention all over the world. Patents protect technological features beyond the product itself. For example, an owner who has a patent for a heating system begins to apply and sell toasters in the US. Then begins to integrate the patented heating system to ovens, then into cars, and continue developing new businesses because they own the technology through the patents.

If you want to understand what your competition is developing or where they plan to break into, use patents as your primary indicator. The patents your competitors are filing might as well be a magic arrow pointing you in the direction of their strategy.  Whether that arrow is pointing to a new product, a new focus, a new strategy, a new partnership, or even a whole new market; patents do not lie. An obvious and recent example is Facebook (Meta). In 2020, Facebook was identified as showing the most patent-related growth in the area of Optical Elements relating to Head’s Up Display patents or VR.[1] It was clear Facebook was making this transition and putting a lot of resources into making sure they would dominate the AR/VR space. And now a year and a half later, Zuckerberg has announced Meta, a metaverse platform aimed at creating social connection through AR/VR, and no one should have been surprised.

Patents are useful in indicating market trajectory or when a technology area is going to break out or even lose steam. It is important to keep in mind not all technology is patentable, and the number of patents can show what areas a company is trying to protect. Looking at the volume of patents and the number of players is useful in determining what emerging technologies are seeing traction and which ones are not being adopted. Patents trends can also point to when technology is going through an “update” or when new patents are substituting on old patents, rendering them obsoleteBeing able to identify the number of patents filed in a field or identifying the organizations filling those patents, you can predict which markets are attempting to innovate and which organizations are leading the charge.

According to the European Patent Office, in 2020 we saw a surge in patents relating to medical technology. Med-tech accounted for the highest number of new patent fillings surpassing digital communications from the previous year.[2] While this stat is directly related to the circumstances bought on by COVID-19, the underlying fact is the company who filed the most patents, Johnson & Johnson, was one of the main vaccine developers. The med-tech research and studies done during the past year and a half are going to continue to lead to medical innovation and advancements in the form of new drugs, new devices, and new procedures.

Patents should be seen as an organization’s strongest asset. They protect ideas, they create new revenue, and they validate a company’s value. Patent data will always be the guide for innovation in both patent holders’ objectives and the market’s overall direction. However, creating a strong patent portfolio is not an easy task. While patent data is public information there have been difficulties in comprehending the necessary data due to the sheer amount. Just looking at the U.S., in 2020, a total number of 399,055 patents were granted at the USPTO – an increase from 182,218 in 2000. [3] The number of patents will continue to grow as humans continue to innovate and as technologies continue to become more complex. If individuals were able to efficiently understand this amount of patent data, you might be able to make these decisions in a timely matter to adjust your strategy to stay ahead of the curve.

Typically to understand this information you would need to read hundreds of patent documents, or hire an industry expert to break down the information. This is not a problem for enterprise-sized accounts that have the resources to afford these huge inefficiencies. While the “strategy” is often file first and ask later, most companies do not have the methods to design an efficient strategy to maximize value. Due to this, portfolios become large over time and are filled with patents that end up producing no value. This task of keeping up with patent trends and large portfolios can seem nearly impossible for some SMEs or Universities who do not have access to additional recourses and whose focus is to create or innovate through their technology.

One way to help in evaluating patents and in fully understanding the story patents tell is by leveraging Artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our platform combines our battle-tested Artificial Intelligence, years of transactional data, and algorithms to create a clear story of patent data. IPwe offers the information and tools to help our clients identify, research, evaluate and transact their patents.

[1] https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-01-14/facebook-piling-up-patents-augmented-reality-push

[2] https://www.epo.org/about-us/annual-reports-statistics/statistics/2020/statistics/patent-applications.html#medical

[3] https://www.statista.com/statistics/256571/number-of-patent-grants-in-the-us/

 


 

Author: Franklin Bruscianelli, Director of Sales Operations

Franklin Bruscianelli’s experience comes from his years at IPwe. He works directly with patent owners and has a strong understanding of the problems and inefficiencies they face. By leveraging emerging technologies and the IPwe team’s experience, Franklin empowers owners of all sizes with new ways to understand and extract value from their patents.

 

About IPwe

IPwe is quickly emerging as creating the industry standard for patent NFTs. IPwe recently announced its partnership with IBM to represent patents as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). IPwe also has a partnership with CasperLabs  to further improve the patent registration process and create a chain of custody (CoC) Solution by using the Casper public blockchain to store, secure, and trace patent data, thereby creating a new approach to patent ownership verification. Patent NFTs are stored and shared on the IPwe Platform, running on the IBM Cloud and Blockchain services such as the Casper Network. IPwe anticipates tokenized IP to become commercially available in Q4 of 2021. IPwe operates in more than 50 countries with offices in Asia, Europe, North and South America. To learn more about how IPwe can provide the answers to your IP-related business decisions, Request a Demo of the IPwe Platform on www.ipwe.com.

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Mia Mixan
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