There are countless ways in which IP analysis can be used to identify lucrative business opportunities. For example, specific technologies — and sub-segments of those technologies, reveal the strengths of different market players in those areas. Licensing is an important part of the intellectual property world and highlights key areas of activity.
With the right search, examining licensing trends uncovers many new adjacent areas of opportunity. Meanwhile, citation analysis allows you to see the chain of intellectual property behind a specific patent. Patents that are frequently cited by subsequent patents indicates the level of influence this technology has in the market, again revealing organizations that make the best partners, depending on your organization’s goals.
Benefits of licensing
There are many reasons why a company may choose to in or out-license certain technologies and often it can bring advantages to both parties in the right circumstances, beyond simply generating revenue for the licensor. For example, companies can collaborate in order to bring new technologies or products to the market more rapidly. They may wish to do this in response to other competitive threats in the market. A company can also ‘buy-in’ a technology, which reduces the cost of R&D and time to market.
Areas showing high levels of licensing activity therefore indicate that the space is ‘hot,’ or desirable, and could represent some of the most urgent areas to pursue for new opportunities or to find business partners, especially if competitors are already diversifying into these areas. Meanwhile, investors can ascertain whether a target company sits within an especially lucrative area from a licensing point of view.
Using citation analysis
There are three main ways in which citations can help within the context of looking for business development opportunities.
- Identifying who has the pillar technologies in a specific technology segment
- Obtaining a picture of your competitors and plan responses
- Investigating which patents you want to license
When a specific patent has been cited a large number of times then it can be dubbed a ‘pillar technology’. This means that it is a technology that is used in many other technologies. An example of how to trace these relationships can be seen below. The patent on the below, a Samsung patent which describes a ‘cleaning robot and controlling method thereof,’ relies on 5 previous patents and one of those patents within the five relies on a further 14 previous patents.
Following on from this you can also use citations to explore what your competitors are pursuing and which technologies they are using in their own patents. As a result you can plan responses in your own strategy when your competitors release new products.
Lastly when you are in the process of creating a new technology you will want to make sure that you will not be accused of infringement in the future. You can do this by citing other patents that you have used when creating your technology.