Patent research can improve the quality and speed of decisions across your company. Find out how you can harness the power of patent data to gain a competitive advantage.
Patent research can be used to inform a seemingly infinite array of decisions. Yet we often find that for many companies, patent research is conducted for only a few purposes, such as prior art searching, watching competitors’ filing activities, or to aid in evaluating a significant investment, such as entering a new technology category or making an acquisition.
With the value that patent data provides to improve the quality and speed of decisions, what holds companies back from using it widely across functions? Why isn’t patent research used more frequently to inform the “everyday” decisions made by people in different roles throughout the organization? Why is patent research limited only to the IP department?
In my experience working with companies of all sizes, I have found a common reason for why many people outside of the IP department are reluctant to use patent data. Engineers, analysts, managers – people who could benefit from greater access to patent data – are, in many cases, intimidated by the complexity of patent data, the language used in patent documents, and the uncertainty of whether they’ve found the right publications.
Demystifying patent research
Many of the companies I work with have overcome their perceptions about the complexity of patent data. What’s more, they go on to help teams in various job functions harness the value of patent data to make faster, more informed decisions. In our new e-book, 10 common pitfalls of patent research, and how to avoid them we’re sharing what we’ve learned working alongside these organizations as they use patent data to inform a wider array of decisions.
Patent research doesn’t have to be time-consuming, costly or complicated. With this new e-book, our hope is to make patent research more accessible to researchers, inventors, analysts and managers to perform patent research with speed and precision, and ultimately improve outcomes across the organization.
Patents and supply chains—what’s the connection?
Let’s consider one particular situation where patent research offers tremendous value but is frequently underutilized. IP is probably not the first thing that comes to mind for operations or sourcing teams when they think about managing their company’s supply chain. But in some well-known cases, patents have been at the center of supply chain vulnerabilities.
“IP is probably not the first thing that comes to mind for operations or sourcing teams when they think about managing their company’s supply chain. But in some well-known cases, patents have been at the center of supply chain vulnerabilities.”
In many cases, companies rely on a strategic supplier for key input to their finished product. This input could be a unique material, or a particular way to assemble a device. It’s often this key component that provides the finished product with its competitive advantage—and allows the company to command a premium in the market.
However, all too often companies fail to assess if these suppliers have robust IP protection for these key components, or if their IP protection has infringement risk that could result in supply disruptions.
Evaluating your supply chain from an IP perspective
Using patent research to evaluate your suppliers can provide highly valuable, actionable insight to help you identify potential risk and ensure that your competitive advantage is protected. With patent research, you’re able to find potential vulnerabilities and take mitigation action before these vulnerabilities are exploited by your competitors.
Here are key questions to consider when evaluating your suppliers from an IP perspective:
- Does the supplier have patents protecting the key elements of their invention, whether it’s an assembly process or material formulation? If not, competitors may be able to copy the invention and impact your market share.
- If the suppliers do have patents protecting their invention, how strong are they? A validity search could help you pressure test your suppliers’ patent protection and evaluate how difficult it would be for a competitor to invalidate them if your new product started to take off.
- Do your suppliers have the freedom to operate, or are their patents potentially infringing other patent holders? If so, those patent holders may be more interested in asserting their IP rights once they see that your company has a potentially high-value partnership with their competitor. Potential injunctions arising during litigation could be very disruptive to your business.
Unleash the power of patent research
Supply chain management is just one example of where patent research can offer high value insights that no other data source provides. Marketing, strategy, competitive intelligence, mergers and acquisitions and many other functions across your company can benefit from using patent research to avoid risk and identify new opportunities.
Patent research is easier to use and accessible to more users than ever before thanks to user-centric patent search tools and comprehensive global patent data that are normalized and enhanced. Now is the perfect time for your organization to take stock of how it uses patent research, and whether it’s being used to its full potential.
About the author
Laura Bantle is a Solution Consultant at Clarivate. She is a registered U.S. patent attorney and is a member of the Minnesota Bar, with over 10 years of experience in IP due diligence, patent and legal research, litigation strategy, and contract drafting. Her primary goal is working with customers to successfully develop and implement their patent research, analytics, and portfolio strategy. Laura earned her B.S. from the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and graduated magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Cybaris® Intellectual Property Law Review. Prior to joining Clarivate, Laura gained industry experience in pharmaceutical regulatory compliance, patent licensing, and M&A due diligence.