Whether your company is currently on top of the world or working its way there, you know there is always a competitor nipping at your heels. You may already know who that competitor is, or there may be a complete unknown preparing to disrupt your market. You could continue running without any idea how close your competitor is to overtaking you, or you could develop competitive intelligence through the use of patent analysis.
If you follow our blog, then you know by now that patents do so much more than protect your innovations. You can gather incredible amounts of information from patents that will give you insight into what is happening within your industry. Now let’s talk about how you can develop this intelligence so that you can stop running and start strategizing.
Analyze Your Own Portfolio
Before you can compare your company to others, you must know the value of your current intellectual property. A thorough analysis if your patent portfolio will give you an idea of your current holdings. You’ll learn the strength and validity of each patent, the breadth of the claims, and the stability of the terms within.
With this information, you’ll be ready to move to the next step.
Management and Maintenance
With scores on your patents, you now have information about which of your intellectual property is driving you forward and which patents are dragging you down. Why continue to maintain patents that no longer serve your business interests? You can now either let your patent expire or, in the interest of monetization, locate entities interested in licensing your technology.
You’ll also be able to determine where weaknesses may lie, which gives you the opportunity to either make or buy the technology in question. A patent landscape will help you identify white space within your industry where innovation is possible. This gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors by allowing you to stake your claim on market share.
Investigate the Landscape
That landscape that shows you the white space in your industry can also show you the movements your competitors are making. With up-to-date information regarding the patents they’re filing, you can develop a hypothesis about their direction.
For a moment, let’s consider Blockbuster, as we so often do. Some say that the rental giant couldn’t have possibly known that Netflix was on the way. However, if they had searched for patents revolving around media, they would have discovered an upstart, unknown company filing for patents for a delivery system for media. Or, as we now know, mail-order DVDs.
While the information that you can gather from a patent may not be so obvious in every case, there are other hints you might find. For instance, simply finding patents filed by your competitors should give you reason to investigate further. You can also obtain all the patents in that patent’s family to give you a fuller idea of what is being developed. If there’s still not enough information there, you may get some forewarning if well-known research organizations are involved.
Regular examination of your own patents is important. While you may not find any new information the first time you score your patent portfolio, competitors will always be at work to overtake you. By investigating your own patents on a regular basis, you’ll know if someone develops new technology that cites any of the patents you already hold.
While a citation of your patent doesn’t have to mean that competition is on the way, in many cases it certainly does. You could uncover a company that’s planning to launch a new technology that could overtake yours in the market. If nothing else, someone’s citation of your patent could make you aware of new trends emerging in the market.
As you can see, IP analysis plays a very important role in corporate strategy. Without competitive intelligence, you’ll always be running from your competitors. Instead, stop running and start creating barriers to entry through the information that you’ve gathered. Figure out where and how to improve your own technology as you discover new trends through your patent analysis.
You deserve this unfair advantage, so take it.