Thinking of filing a patent? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as having a great idea, nor is it enough to just develop that idea into something concrete. The goal of any patent is to create a sustainable business model, and no business operates in a vacuum. If you want to file a patent for a truly competitive product, you first need to understand your potential competitors’ IP portfolios.

Here’s a closer look at why you need to know your competitor’s portfolio as well as you know your own, what it allows you to do, and how to track it down.

What is Included in a Patent Portfolio?

Remember, a patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention granted in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention. The duration of a patent depends on the type of patent granted (there are three types: design, plant, and utility).

A patent portfolio sounds fancy, but it’s a simple concept. It refers to a collection of patents owned by a single entity, such as an individual or corporation. The patents may be related or unrelated–the uniting feature is who holds them, not the contents of the patents themselves.

What is Patent Landscape Analysis?

A patent portfolio is an important feature in patent landscape analysis. But before we go into why, it helps to know what patent landscape analysis is. Patent landscape analysis, or patent mapping, is a multistep process used to parse through, organize, and extract value from the sea of information available in published patents.

It’s thought that about 80% of science and technology information contained in patents is not published anywhere else. That can be incredibly useful information if you can sift out what’s important and how it relates to other patents.

Patent landscape analysis relies on human intelligence and computer data mining software to render this information into actionable data.

The Role of Portfolios in Patent Landscape Analysis

What do patent portfolios have to do with landscape analysis? Everything.

The goal of patent landscape analysis is not to assess your own patent filings–you already know what you have. The goal is to assess your competitors’ filings. That way, you can understand their filings, understand what’s in them, understand how it relates to your potential filings, and make informed decisions for your patent process.

Why Track a Competitor’s IP Filings?

As an entrepreneur, you know that no good idea happens in a vacuum. You have to contend with the market and who else is serving the same product to your target audience.

Think of patent filings as the boxing ring where this showdown begins.

Understanding your competitor’s patent filings, vis-a-vis their patent portfolio, is your window into their business model. It gives you an idea of what they offer the world and what they don’t. This, in turn, can be used to understand your competitive placement on the market. That way, you can show up on the market ready to compete.

Techniques to Research Patent Portfolios

With that in mind, there are several techniques available for the intrepid entrepreneur to research patent portfolios. You have some options to sniff out clues on your own, or you can enlist an intellectual property professional to help you. We recommend the latter option.

The first step is to understand your own patent portfolio. That way, you know what you’re bringing to the table and what you need to look for in your competitor’s portfolio. From there, it’s time to start digging.

Keep in mind that this is not as simple as you might think. Entering a company’s name into a search bar won’t pull up a list of every patent they hold. Think of the prospect as an entity, not a single company. You’re going to need company histories, including mergers, acquisitions, diversifications, and subsidiaries–when a company is acquired, the name on the patent doesn’t always change, so you may need to track down the former company’s name to find the patent.

This is why we recommend enlisting a professional. They know what to look for when hunting down a competitor’s patent portfolio and can ensure no vital information is left out. They can also help you get a better legal and technical understanding of what the patent portfolio means for your own patents.

No one ever said being an entrepreneur was easy. Your competitor’s patent portfolio is just one example of why that is. But that doesn’t mean that your IP has to be a headache. At Patents Integrated, we  guide entrepreneurs through every stage of the patent process, creating integrated IP strategies that deliver value to your business. 

Ready to take an integrated approach to your IP? Click here to get started.