Why is it Important to Monitor Competitors?

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It is always better to sense a threat before it comes to you and starts creating protective layers for the future if somehow the threat may strike. Also, during the creation of protective layers, a lot of new things are introduced helping in boosting the current working system.   

In a similar way, Patent and IPR monitoring of competitors is helping companies for the betterment of their current system as well as preparing them in advance for upcoming future threats. Patent monitoring keeps you updated about granted patents and new patent applications.   

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Getting a patent granted for innovation is not the endpoint here, it is equally important to keep an eye on competitors’ related technology domains. One of the use cases of patent monitoring is identifying and determining new and useful developments in key technology areas for acquisition, licensing, or partnership.   

Patent monitoring (also referred to as patent alerting) has become useful for many reasons, one of which is that it acts as a sharp weapon in a company’s arsenal when utilizes in the right way. However, when not utilized in the right way, it is a huge monetary burden on a company as gaining access to monitoring systems and resources is expensive. The reality is that companies often go through the motions of patent watches with little compliance with their business priorities, and a limited understanding of the real power it holds.  

A Patent monitoring report is a way to present targeted competitors’ patent portfolio, uses of identical domain technology in the products, ranking of technology based on the comparison, and patent strategies that are pursued by the competitors, etc. Such a report can help you gauge one, futuristic IP trends critical for you, and two, keeping a competitive watch in a comprehensive manner.   

These reports can also include details of patent prosecution events, examiner behavior, technological field monitoring, family extension events, market analysis, and any other additional information needed. These reports can be generated weekly, monthly, or in a specified time interval. Patent monitoring involves significant funds to access the right databases. While it does form a vital facet for an organization, small and medium businesses need to evaluate the cost-benefit analysis of performing this investment-heavy activity.   

Advantages to Competitor Patent Monitoring

There are several advantages to monitoring competitors’ patents and IPR, few of the important are listed below: 

There is a possibility to infringe upon existing technology when you sell a product or service that is covered partially or entirely by an existing issued patent. After knowing whether your work is infringing someone’s else work or not, you can plan for licensing or borrowing it in advance before getting caught in an infringement case.   

By monitoring competitor portfolios, you can protect your intellectual property through the identification of patents that hit too close to home. Also, based on the monitoring report or portfolio analysis it can be determined that there is a need for licensing or monetization.   

The risk of not monitoring competitors is bigger as other annoyed patent owners will try not only to stop selling your products but also request damages for their loss of sales. The risk is especially great for smaller companies that are reliant on a few innovative ideas and products to generate revenue. To avoid such kind of tragedy, constantly monitoring and analyzing competitors’ patents are mandatory, so that you can ensure your business has the freedom to operate. 

The Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) analysis is used to find out all the potential threats existing in the market. The FTO analysis typically comprises search results for issued patents and published patent applications that cover technologies with features similar to the company’s technology as well as an evaluation of any potential risk of an infringement lawsuit.  

The ability to commercialize technology and market-related products is dependent on a business’s Freedom-to-Operate. Patent infringement cases can always be avoided with the aid of monitoring. Being aware of ongoing patent and IPR activities is the ideal solution to perform operation successfully in the market.   

After knowing your competitor’s strengths as well as strong areas of growth, it could be easy to decide your growth path and open door for grabbing new opportunities and new technological domain. Instead of doing improvements only in the common area, choosing a new area will surely benefit the organization and add value to the portfolio, services, and products.   

By monitoring, you can also come to know about the weak areas of competitors that can be utilized further to hold a position in that area just like a golden opportunity. It also helps in determining a new area of investment that is also an important step for the growth of an organization.   

No matter how heavily populated a field is, there is always a chance to discover gaps or white spaces for new inventions. Finding these gaps through patent monitoring can give the company an exclusive advantage, so it is in the company’s best interest to push for the creation of novel products.  

Once white gaps are identified, these specific areas of interest may be protected by IP Rights. The old adage of ‘knowledge is power’ applies here, as making key strategic decisions without knowledge of the competitive landscape can be both costly and foolhardy for the individual decision makers or the company as a whole. 

You can act against a competitor for your own’s benefit only when you know what the competitor is doing wrong. If the patent application filed by the competitors does not match the patentability criteria, in this scenario an informed company can file a third-party pre-issuance submission to challenge the pending patent application.   

On the other end of the patent process, if a competitor is likely to receive material patent rights, then an informed company can ensure that none of its activities infringe upon those patent rights. The company utilizes the ‘design around’ process to protect its product(s) from any lawsuit which may arise in the future after granting the competitor’s currently pending patent application.   

The entry of a new player into a field always creates a threat to the already existing players. Considering this scenario, it is good to stay alert and informed of competitors’ activities to set foot in the market. Subsequently, companies can be better prepared in advance to counter any potential threats strategically. 

At present technological enhancement is not confined to a country, jurisdiction, and physical geography of the world. Technology is crossing all the barriers and boundaries nowadays, hence limiting patent monitoring to jurisdiction or geography is not a complete solution. This analysis helps organizations seek better patent protection coverage in international markets.   

There is no doubt to pursue patent protection is a costly process in terms of finance and time consumption. That is why companies take it on a serious note and make investments cautiously. However, obtaining patent rights provides a competitive edge to make an applicant’s investment worthwhile. Because patent application filings are investments that generally take a few years to get mature. By tracking competitors’ patent filings, the area of interest can be determined which may commercialize the business in the future.   

Keeping eye on what a competitor is trying to protect provides a glimpse into the competitor’s planned business strategy. It can better understand by tracking the competitors’ patent filings direction in which the competition is headed and preparing in advance for any patent rights their competitors may ultimately be granted.   

TT Consultants offers businesses in-depth patent monitoring services that are tailored to a company’s specific requirements. Whether it is competition tracking, monitoring specific inventors, or a combination of areas, we use the most potent tools to achieve results that offer valuable insights. Our plans are designed to fit the needs of small/medium/large enterprises looking to gain an edge in the market with our thoroughly researched reports.   

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