As the quantity and value of patent filings, acquisition and litigation increases rapidly, there has been an big increase in the number of specialists offering services around the analysis of patents, including Ambercite. Both the clients and service providers use a number of terms in relation to these services, such as patent landscaping, mapping, searching or portfolio analytics/analysis - and sometimes inconsistently.
So what do these different terms mean, in our view?
1) Patent searching is exactly that, searching for patents that meet specific criteria and something that should be very familiar to most readers. Patent searches are often divided into novelty searches (has a given technology been disclosed in the patent literature?) and Freedom to Operate (FTO, can I make or sell a specific product or service?) searches, which aim to understand if a given technology will infringe valid patents
Patent searching is often by done by patent attorneys and examiners, inventors, and companies monitoring their competitor's activities. The outputs of patent searches are often lists of relevant or potentially relevant patents.
2) Portfolio assessment (or portfolio analytics) is the process of ranking patents in a portfolio in an objective manner. This can be of particular interest to IP managers or owners who want an independent opinion on the relative quality of their patents. Alternatively they might want an independent opinion on their competitors patents, and how these compare to their patents. Parties looking to acquire patent portfolios might also be interested in portfolio analytics.
The outputs of portfolio analytics tend to be table of patent numbers, with details of each patent given including indicators show the objective assessment of each patent listed.
3) Patent landscaping (also known as patent mapping, or patent technology mapping) generally refers to the process of analysing a group of patents in a specific area of technology. The purpose of patent landscaping is generally to identify key trends in the data, such as clusters of activity within this set of patents, dominant owners, dominant source of technology (such as leading countries), leading inventors, leading patent classes, age profiles etc.
Patent landscaping tends to have particular attraction to larger companies trying to understand their relative competitive position in their technologies, the activities of their competitors and to identify key patents to acquire, license or design around. Other clients can include researchers and universities.
The outputs of patent landscaping can be reports, graphs, and in some cases maps showing the leading aspects of the technology.
These different processes are compared in the table below, which also shows the Ambercite products developed for each of these processes (and which are further described below).
How Ambercite can help with each of the above
Amberscope - patent searching
AmberScope has been developed by Ambercite to assist with patent searching. The challenge with all patent searching is to reduce the over 80 million patents to a manageable number. Traditionally this is done by filtering the patents using a combination of keywords and patent codes. In practice these keyword and patent codes can be inconsistently applied, and so AmberScope uses patent citation connections as an alternative means of finding patents similar to a starting patent. As a bonus, besides lists of relevant patents AmberScope also presents results in an intuitive graphical format.
AmberScore - portfolio analytics
Many important patents tends to have many and deep forward and backward citations - and these cited patents in turn are connected to other important patents. AmberScore is Ambercite's formula for predicting the influence of a patent based on its citation connections.
AmberScore values can be easily obtained for any patent by looking up this patent in AmberScope. A portfolio review product is under development, and should be available soon. An example of an AmberScore value is shown in the image below (this particular patent, the key patent for the multi-billion dollar omeprazole drug, has an AmberScore value of 16, or 16 times the average AmberScore value for granted US patents).
Network Patent Analysis - Patent landscaping
Ambercite's patent landscaping product is Network Patent Analysis (NPA), which unlike many other landscaping technology, both groups patents with similar patents and ranks them as well, based on their patent citation connections.
The image below shows an output from an NPA study. The blue patents belonged to a client company, and the red patents to their competitors. Just like in AmberScope, larger patents are more important. Further examples of NPA projects are found here.