How to Use Patent Monitoring to Track Competitors and Their Patent Filing

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To develop products and generate revenue from them, companies are focusing on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protections such as patents. But to stay competitive in the market, it’s not just about innovating in a closed shell but also looking outside the shell to stay updated and carrying further innovation based on the broad view, and here the importance lies in tracking the competitors specifically their IP to generate increased profits by implementing targeted business strategies. 

Patent Monitoring or Watch is a process in which technology, proprietorship, legal status, and trends followed in the market related to patents or published applications of competitors are regularly monitored to identify who is working on what and in which jurisdiction in technological domain of interest to identify threats and opportunities at an initial stage

Patent Monitoring can be conducted in various ways and is mainly based on technology of interest or company of interest which may be a competitor.  

For company-based patent monitoring, assignees actively working in domain of interest which may also include competitors are extracted and standardized based on multiple subsidiaries, and after that extraction of key patents on any database is performed based on the assignees.  

For technology-based patent monitoring, technology of interest is firstly understood to identify key concepts, and search strings are made using keywords & classes to extract key patents 

Considering either company-based patent monitoring or technology-based patent monitoring, the above step will generate a set of patents that are further screened based on the taxonomy nodes, which is prepared based on key concepts of technology, and further categorized to generate the report along with bibliographic information. The important part is to periodically (weekly monthly, quarterly, or yearly) perform the above search to see any new updates regarding the patents or patent applications already on the list i.e., change in legal status, examination status, litigation status, etc., or any new publication in the domain or by the company of interest and highlighting the same in the report.  

The periodic process can be manually conducted however as day-by-day patent filings are increasing, therefore manual checking of the competitor’s IP will not be beneficial, and a patent service is surely required which has an automatic alerting system whenever something new is initiated in the technology domain or on arrival of a new update from a specific company for which initially search was conducted. 

Below are the insights obtained by a company by using patent monitoring for tracking competitors and their patent filings: 

Monitoring the patents filed in the field of your interest by competitors helps in identifying what more areas should be focused upon and where to achieve the IPR protection by the company through changing the patenting strategy, i.e., focusing on the specific area of interest in the field focused by the competitors or the leftover areas such as white spaces/untapped areas or focusing on the extension of geographical coverage for the patents to maintain a competitive edge. Also, if the competitor is likely to receive a patent for the filed patent application and that would create an infringement issue by the company, the company should actively proceed with a design-around patent application filing. 

If any of the patent applications filed by the competitor would generate a business hindrance, actively take steps at the respective patent office by challenging the patent application in view of the patentability requirement. 

Filed patents by the competitors help in identifying if it would be safe to sell products in any region without any risk of an infringement lawsuit. 

Monitoring patent applications filed by the competitors helps in identifying technology in the applications that can be risky for infringing your company’s IP and taking necessary steps to stay in an advanced competitive position i.e., monetizing and licensing the patent rights or receiving a license for technology that would be beneficial for future product selling and marketing the products under that license. 

By analyzing competitor’s patent filings, insights about the competitor’s marketing strategy for future products can be predicted which can help in preparing beforehand regarding product marketing strategy focus and development of a competing technology.  

The technologies that are in the development stage see a lot of new applicants; therefore, patent monitoring helps in the identification of these applicants which could also be threatful in the future. 

Patent monitoring is also beneficial for determining if the corresponding fees are paid for the patent allowance or to maintain the patent by the competitor. If the fees are not paid it can be considered that the technology can soon be obsolete, and the company can instruct the R&D department to innovate based on the advancement of this technology as soon as possible.  

Conclusion

To generate these benefits from patent monitoring, it is important that the information regarding the patent filings should be updated on a regular basis as any lag in this information would incur huge losses to a company implementing IP strategies based on them. 

We at TT Consultants have Patent Monitoring Services that track the area of interest, and competitors working in the area of interest, in order to keep a close eye on their patenting activities and also generate customized reports and send them weekly or monthly based on the client requirements. 

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