Landscaping basics – Landscape literally means the topography or terrain of a given area. The definition of a landscape search thus means searching and laying open the desired target sector or technology area.
The landscape search & analysis involves extraction and interpretation of data from an innovation and commercial standpoint. This landscape report helps in strategic planning for the development of the product, sales, and business support area.
Specifically, technology landscapes are performed for a particular area that helps to analyze the situation of the Intellectual property protection, and commercialized products in one place. It is generally done with the combined help of automation and manual analysis to organize the huge information available in a particular technology.
There are various types of landscape and are generally referred to as Patent Landscapes, Technology Landscapes, Competitor Landscapes, Technology Scouting, Whitespace Analysis, and Benchmarking Studies. The needs and requirements of the client define the type of landscape analysis.
Some of the unique types of landscapes have been defined below briefly:
Technology landscapes streamline complicated issues and aid in evaluating a diverse range of technical queries including readiness along with regulatory and product comparisons.
Such details and facts can be further utilized to define the main technical areas. Mind-maps, 3D charts, and visually oriented matrices are some of the examples of visualization tools that can be used in examining the technological area of interest.
The data source for the technology landscape is both patent and non-patent literature. Such type of evaluation provides an in-depth analysis of the current and future status of technologies as they keep growing in different industries.
The Technology landscape is crucial as it serves as a catalyst for further rounds of product development. As a result, it has a high potential for market disruption. Hence, no matter how easy and uncomplicated a marketing effort may seem, understanding the technology landscape would always be advantageous.
Within the technology landscape, the technology readiness level (TRL) is an important factor. TRL helps in knowing the positioning of respective technology at different levels such as technology at the concept level, research level, pilot-scale, commercial phases, etc.
Have you ever wondered, even though your product has good quality, customer service is efficient, and marketing is crisp and informative, the market share continues to decline?
The answer to this question would be to derive a methodological approach and create a competitive landscape analysis, instead of sitting idly and observing your competitor’s progress.
As the name suggests, a competitive landscape is a dynamic way of understanding how you compete with your peers in business. It can be done both at patent or non-patent and at the product level as well.
By employing your company’s strengths, you can make headway between you and your competitor’s patent or product portfolio. In the beginning, it might require some planning and effort, but the benefits can be magnificent.
Competitive analysis provides a method of systematically identifying and analyzing your competitors. You perform extensive research into their patents, non-patents, product development, marketing, sales, and other critical processes. Some of the features covered in the competitor landscape are:
There is no doubt in the statement that innovation and Intellectual Property, specifically patenting go hand in hand. As a result, it’s crucial for industries and businesses to scout the world of emerging and advancing technologies on regular basis, analyzing the feasibility of patenting new ideas, while also looking for new alliances, acquisitions, licensing, or co-development prospects.
A detailed technology scouting would help in disclosing all the important data and facts pertaining to technology including patents, research conducted by universities and colleges, key activities of the competitors, and overall activity of different organizations in a particular domain. Some of the key benefits of technology scouting are listed below:
Therefore, conducting technology scouting can provide your company an advantage, allowing you to build a comprehensive patent portfolio while also understanding the pace of innovation in your field of interest.
4. Whitespace Analysis:
Whitespace analysis is a way of identifying the gaps in the patent landscape that could bring potential opportunities to your IP strategy. These voids could indicate new ideas that can bolster your present technology portfolio or possibilities to prevent others from exploiting the same technology.
Such analysis aids in the identification of potential possibilities before your competitors, allowing you to gain a competitive advantage.
Companies, start-ups, or organizations with active products and strong patent portfolios can take advantage of whitespace analysis as they can find out associated technology areas for existing patents or products, identify complementary application domains, and identify opportunities to expand their technology scope.
A process that can assist decision-makers in examining their market position with respect to their competitors. Similarly, the process can aid an IP or patent counsel in supporting management in evaluating a company’s competitive position with respect to patents and other non-tangible assets.
Analyzing the patent filing ratio over time is a great indicator to use when comparing one’s own performance to that of competitors. When combined with additional data, such as R&D spending, it can give significant insights into how competitors or market spending on a certain technological area.
The purpose of these landscapes is defined when the company plans to expand its marketing activity area, while planning business strategies, identifying the licensing opportunities, investing in a new market, identifying less risky areas in the technology, research, and development expansion, identifying potential mergers or identifying companies for acquisition.
The landscape report is otherwise known as Patent Landscape Report (PLR) which contains multiple segments, and the contents of the segments are described below.
The landscape report can be delivered in four formats based on the client’s requirements and needs. They have been defined below-
Though the landscape report gives relevant insights to various departments of the organization, the landscape search is not an exhaustive search. As time evolves, technology develops, and hundreds of new products and patents get into the technology domain on a daily basis. Therefore, the landscape search and report give insight into the present status of the technology and IP activity. The landscape search and report must be updated over a period to get the current status of the domain.
The patent landscape search and analysis can be prepared in three phases, by a group of experts under the supervision of a technical expert to provide a valuable final output.
The zeroth phase is the identification and understanding of a particular technology by simple google search and discussion with the technical experts to get a clear idea about the technology and helps in the planning of the project.
Further, based on the initial understanding, the technology is segmented into main technology, sub-technology, and its attributes like technology focus of the patents based on claims, characteristics or properties of the technologies, applications of the technology, source of the technology, method of producing the technology and others.
This segmentation helps to ensure full broader and wider coverage of technology.
In the case of Patent literature, this zeroth phase can be done automatically by a commercial software tool like XLSCOUT to give an overview and understanding of the patent technologies in the domain.
The first phase is to identify and list the group of patents/publications by manual or automatic mode, non-patent literature, commercially available products, and all other relevant materials relating to the technology domain.
The relevant citations in technology are identified by framing queries in both open sources and commercially available databases covering all possible combinations of keyword-based search, classification-based search, semantic-search, inventor-based searches, and assignee-based searches.
The keyword-based searches should cover both title, abstract and claims-based search, and full specification search along with or without classification-based search, people-based search, or company-based search. In some scenarios, landscape search is limited to a certain period (for example 20 years) based on the client requirements.
After an exhaustive search, the next part is the process of standardization of the retrieved references and the bibliographic data. The standardization is performed by removing the family duplications, including one patent per INPADOC family (based on the client requirements), citing the latest version of the patent, and removing irrelevant citations from the patent bucket.
In some scenarios, the search and standardization are performed by covering all the relevant citations from the technology irrespective of one patent per INPADOC families.
Besides this, the bibliographic data of the relevant patent bucket is standardized by organizing the dates application, priority, and publication date in a format, organizing the inventor names by arranging it in an order of first name, middle name and surname, and standardizing Assignees or applicants by grouping the subsidiaries into a common assignee name.
The second phase is the segmentation of the grouped citations obtained during the first phase. The technology to be analyzed is initially segmented into main technologies and sub-technologies.
Further, these technologies are segmented into the technology focus of the patents based on claims, characteristics or properties of the technologies, applications of the technology, source of the technology, method of producing the technology, and others.
The final phase is the creation of analytics based on the data segment during the second stage. The analytics can be illustrated by a pie chart, bar chart, radar chart, bubble charts, line charts, area-based charts, and matrices.
This final phase includes 3D, visual analytics relating to technology and its segmentation, IP basic trends, Citation Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Void analysis, and Market Research and Analysis.
The basic IP trends give insights into the technology development over the years in terms of patenting activity and predict the future technology growth in the upcoming years. Besides the basic trends, the geographical distribution of the technology plays a vital role which explaining the distribution of technology across various main and sub-technologies.
Competitor analysis provides insights about the key players, key inventors, a collaboration of assignee and key players, and the activity of key players across the technologies. Market search and analysis gives insight into the advantages and possible disadvantages of technology in the market, prediction of technology growth, and cost analysis of the technology.
The void analysis gives insight into the less patent-crowded technologies and the reasons behind them. Additionally, the patent landscape may contain some general analysis like mapping patents to products, IP Litigation analysis, IP licensing analysis, prosecution history analysis, and so on.
Typically, performing a landscape is a time-consuming process, but the insight provided by a landscape is immense which eases the decision making of the new venture by an organization.
The best way to perform a patent landscape search is the combination of manual effect and automatic mode with the help of a commercial tool having Artificial Intelligence-Machine Learning programming. This eliminates human errors and improves the accuracy of the landscape report in a useful way.
Here are some of the patent landscapes or technology landscapes done by our experts. The main important step in patent/technology landscaping is the segmentation of the broad technology into main and sub-technologies.
Along with these technologies, the broad technologies are further segmented into application-wise, advantages-wise, characteristics-wise, material type-wise and source wisely, and so on. In case, if the broad technology is a simple technology, it can be segregated into sub-technologies without main technology.
In certain cases, broad technology is a complex technology that may include a group of main technologies. These broad technologies can be segregated into multiple main technologies and sub-technologies.
For instance, the broad technology is based on a natural food for pets and this broad technology is segmented into five sub technologies based on its application wise (i.e., pets), source wise (i.e., plant source), nutrition wise (i.e., Biomolecules), delivery form wise (i.e., food form) and the product wise (i.e., product).
From the technology segmentation given below, these sub-technologies are further classified into small groups of technologies like the sub-technologies are segmented based on certain types.
In another instance, the technology is Meat substitution and is further segmented into a few main technologies like plant based, insect based, 3D printed, cultured, and microbe based.
Further, these main technologies are segmented into various sub technologies based on their source, characteristics, method of production and applications.
After segmentation, the patents are retrieved and segmented according to the defined technology segmentation and proceed to the next step of Patent Analytics and Insights.
There are several major segments of patent Analytics and Insights. They are
The patent trend analysis provides insight into the beginning, progression, and declining phase of a technology over the years. This patenting trends include priority year, application year and publication year analysis.
The below trend shows that the analysis is based on patent application/filing year wise in one of the Food based Technology along with the reasons for the patent filing peaks in the year 2002, 2004 and 2016 and the reasons for dip in the years 2003, 2011, 2020 and 2021.
This analysis helps in predicting the future growth, development and drop in a particular technology and its sub technologies.
The second analysis is the geographical distribution or jurisdiction wise analysis to get knowledge about the widespread of patents and publications in a domain across the world.
It is equally important to look for the distribution of technologies across these individual geographies. This would give an idea about the IP status and the market value for that technology in that specific jurisdiction.
Technology wise distribution analysis gives insights about a technology, its sub technologies, characteristics, applications and technology focus of the patents and publications.
The next type of analysis is the key findings to identify the key players in the industry, key inventors, key technology having high market value, and key classifications.
There may be various types of key players including multi–national companies (MNC), Startups, Universities, Research Institutes, and Individual players across the industry.
These key players provide an idea of potential licensors and mergers and accusation opportunities.
Another type of analysis is the technology focus of the patent literature by comparing the patent claim type relating to the technology.
This technology focus helps in obtaining a new patent filing if there is no existing literature in both Patents and Non patents.
Further, this technology focus is compared with the legal status of the patents to provide a broader vision of freedom to operate the product in jurisdiction of interests.
In some instances, the clients are interested in looking for a bigger picture for their future expansion into new technology by means of voids / white space analysis.
The white space analysis is to find the less crowded technology in a domain that helps in decision making of whether to make investments in the white space technology or not.
Besides patent literature-based analytics the market research gives insight about the growth, possible threats in the market space, opportunities for development of a product and drawbacks of the commercialized product.
One type of analysis includes the patent verses product comparison, product cost analysis, analysis of product planned for launch in the year, companies’ merger analysis, companies acquisition analysis, active startups in the industry, and future possibilities.
By combining the insights from both Patent and Non-Patent literatures, a person gets a clear idea of a technological investment by a key player or a competitor and market status, and this helps in the decision making of future investments.
WIPO Patent Landscape project was initiated in the year 2010. The WIPO patent landscape report (PLR) objective is to provide the needs of developing countries in terms of technical, patenting, and business opportunities in the broad technological areas like Health, food security, green technologies, climatic change, and so on.
Due to the limited technical expertise in these areas, the WIPO collaborates with technical partners like NGOs and IGO. These collaborations cover four steps drafting TOR, delivery phase, dissemination, and evaluation of patent landscape reports (PLR). The WIPO outsources the Landscape project.
The WIPO allows the partner to analyze the patent landscape search and analysis report and then it publishes the report and infographics relating to the technology in their website.
In the next step the WIPO allows the partner to disseminate the Patent landscape report to the respective persons or community for utilization and evaluation. At last, the patent landscape report may be updated based on the requirements.
For this purpose, WIPO has published the “Guidelines for Preparing Patent Landscape Reports” in the year 2015. (References (wipo.int)). In the year 2022, WIPO has launched few patents landscape reports on “Hydrogen Fuel cells in transportation” and “COVID-19 related Vaccines and Therapeutics”.
The landscape report helps the organization and its departments in the following ways:
Intellectual property is one of the most dangerous areas of risk for a company, because of the possible costs, income stream disruptions, and brand damage. TTC has established a new generation of intellectual property tools (known as xlscout) to help clients with strategy, and valuation, reduce risk to find the gap, and help them secure these essential assets.
Our IP Landscaping highlights a company’s or a specific technology’s intellectual property (IP) status in any given country. A comprehensive insight of a company’s competitive position, or a specific area of technology, is an important part of the development of:
Our in-house technologies assist us in creating taxonomies, and the delivered categorized dataset of publications saves time for researchers and allows users to get data quickly. Each category can be chosen/customized as desired by the client’s requirements.
Our IP Landscape is used by a full range of players in intensive sectors and the statistics and logical analysis of the various categorized fields allows us to assess areas of overlap or white space in the domain.
Our Landscape reports are used by
A client wanted us to perform a landscape in the Agri domain and their intention was to expand their business into a new area.
Our team experts have followed the general procedure for landscape and provided the results segmented based on technology-wise.
Additionally, our team has provided another segmentation relating to the business perspective which would be helpful for the client’s business development purpose.
This segmentation was based on the business parameters relating to the cost-effectiveness of the technology, scalability aspect of the technology, efficiency improvement, and related aspects.
Our additional effort, in this case, was highly appreciated by our clients as this kind of approach has helped them to understand their competitors.
In another scenario, a client had an invention in the early budding stages in the healthcare domain and had approached us for a broader patent search.
Our experts have recommended the client a combined Freedom to operate and Patent Landscape Search, in view of covering the invention in the healthcare domain by a patent landscape search and to check for worldwide potentially blocking patents having the client’s invention (in the budding stage) in the claims by means of freedom to operate search.
This type of approach has really helped the client to develop their invention in a better way without any violation.
In another case, a multi-national company has approached us for a patent-specific landscape in the Biomolecule domain.
Our team has provided a part of the report with usual analytics and another part with our additional analysis relating to the biomolecule domain.
More specifically, our team has analyzed the non-patent literature and listed the most common challenges in the domain. An additional analysis has been provided on the accessing the identified challenges in patents and provided a set of few exemplary patents addressing the identified challenges with solutions in the report.
This additional effort has helped our client to a great extent, and they have appreciated our thought process and execution skills.
In yet another interesting landscape case, an inkjet printer client wanted us to perform a cross-domain solution landscape, where he was facing some challenges in printing technology.
He wanted answers from a different domain to get solutions related to nozzle speed, drying time, etc. We scanned all the documents viz. patents, non-patents, products, prototypes, and industry blogs.
Also, we did not limit ourselves to the printer domain only. We performed reverse engineering of the technology and started finding solutions in adjacent areas such as the automobile coating industry.
We gave multiple solutions emerging out from different domains to address the clients’ challenges.
Generally, the patent landscapes can be done at a cost range between US$5000-US$50000 depending upon the scope and nature of the technology crowds.
The patent landscapes can be delivered in four different formats with the difference in cost parameters. The cost of type 1 and type 3 reports ranges between $450 to $1000, and the cost of the type 2 report ranges between $1000-$8000. Likewise, the type4 format report would cost between $5000 to $25000.
The patent landscapes are done in openly available patent databases and patent office databases like google patents, World Intellectual Property Organization – Patent-scope, The lens, FreePatentsOnline, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), [email protected], Korean Institute of Patent Information (KIPRIS), Japan Patent Office (IPDL), Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) and many others.
For retrieving the commercial products and non-patent literature, several tools are there. They are search engines, journal websites like Google scholar, science direct, nature, IEEE, etc., thesis and dissertations, and commercial websites.
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