This is the third in a series of posts about Technology Landscapes aka Patent Landscapes. In the first post "Why I Hate the Phrase ‘Technology Landscape,” I note that the phrase “technology landscape” can mean have different meanings for different people, depending on the context. In the second article, “Technology Landscapes and Patent Monetization,” I assert that a technology landscape is only the starting point towards making business decisions regarding Patent Monetization (making money on your patents).
In this article, I will detail the story of a company who came to IPVision in search of a technology landscape to support its Corporate Growth Strategy.
Case 2: Emerging Company – IP Strategy and Growth
Six months ago (after several years of product development), a well-funded emerging technology company (“EmergingCorp) introduced its first major product line.
It is immediately successful—and EmergingCorp Management is preparing to raise capital to facilitate growth. As the company is in the early stages of IP development, it wants to be more strategic with any IP-related decisions, so it seeks to gain an independent view on its patent work. This is due in part to a concern that the company’s standing law firm isn’t providing the company with valuable, business-centered input on IP strategy. With a goal of being able to answer any investor inquiries regarding IP strategy, EmergingCorp’s management team determines that it needs a technology landscape--to identify and understand its competitors.
Business Dynamics and IP Strategy for an Emerging Company
Before you can understand what a technology landscape means to an emerging company, you need to understand the business dynamics at play.
Through the years, I have met with many entrepreneurs who question the practicality of developing an IP strategy at an emerging company.
“Patents are expensive,” some say. “We can’t afford to litigate or enforce our patents,” others say. And, truthfully, both of these groups are justified in their concerns.
However, both groups are also missing the point.
The entrepreneur’s primary job is:
- To create value
- To capture enough of the value created to be sustainable
Consider the following:
Most financially successful, entrepreneurial technology ventures are acquired by larger companies needing to innovate.
Why is this? Simply put, business leaders have realized that large, relatively-fixed R&D infrastructures in sizable corporations do not innovate fast enough.
One solution is to de-risk the investment through acquiring more innovative, venture-capital-backed companies—and acquiring R&D in the process. From this perspective, the centure capital industry is about “Outsourced Research and Development.”
Also at play has been the “Open innovation” movement, which is annihilating the “Not invented here” attitude. Open innovation includes efforts to engage with external actors to innovate within the corporation or to commercialize ideas developed inside the corporation – e.g., Proctor & Gamble’s “connect and develop” model.
What does this have to do with Technology Landscapes?
For an emerging company, a major goal of a technology landscape project is to help the company develop a business strategy that is supported by an IP strategy. This IP strategy should produce intellectual property that supports innovation goals, increasing the likelihood of a highly-valuable acquisition.
For EmergingCorp, IPVision used the initial market (where the company had introduced its first product line) to develop a technology landscape study.
The study identified EmergingCorp’s competition—the large and small players who were patenting within this initial market. This information helped create a patent landscape. In our interactive sessions with EmergingCorp’s Management Team, we helped them integrate the existing market intellgience with the new business intelligence we gleaned from analyzing the patent landscape. This comprehensive picture enabled management to understand patent issues from a business perspective and improve the company’s communication with its outside patent law firm.
IPVision also helped EmergingCorp set up a periodic monitoring process, utilizing the updated capabilities of our Advantage™ patent analytics platform.
Considering the limits of the company’s patenting budget, management is also considering implementing strategic public disclosures of features, to prevent competitors from creating “picket fences” around their core patents.
IPVision is helping EmergingCorp think through alternative business and patent strategies. One of these strategies is to focus product development efforts on next generation features that acquirers will find valuable. How do we do this? By utilizing the features of patent analytics to integrate market intelligence and patent landscape insights.
The knowledge EmergingCorp has gained from the patent landscape process is also impacting its industry Value Chain. The process has shown the company the power of its technology—technology that could create disruptive business models and further enhance EmergingCorp’s value to an acquirer.
At the end of the day, EmergingCorp’s patents are no longer an afterthought left to its lawyers.
Thanks to a focused patent landscape process, the company’s management team has the ability to create a more robust business strategy—through translating dense individual patents into a comprehensive and strategic package.