Patent alerts: To stay ahead of the competition

As we know that innovation is the key to sustainable growth for any business today and patents play a vital role by securing innovations and obtaining competitive edge in the market. Patent filing is increasing globally and according to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) report, International patent filings increased by 6.6 percent in 2012 from the previous year, with China, Japan and South Korea posting double-digit growth. “It shows the importance of building strong, intangible asset portfolios, even in times of crisis, because you need it for a recovery”, Francis Gurry, head of the UN agency said.

Patents are excellent source of technical information, primarily for the reason that inventions are not only disclosed systematically in the patent specification but also the best mode is disclosed to meet statutory requirements in most of the jurisdiction. Therefore, the patent databases contain valuable information to detect technology evolution.

Staying ahead of your competitors in the world where innovation is happening in every area of technology is not easy. In order to improve quality of innovation, avoid duplication of work, filing quality patents and giving right direction to R&D, it is essential for the companies to be updated with latest inventions for which patent applications are being filed/published/granted/expired.

However, keeping track of the kind and number of patent applications published, granted, abandoned or expired is a big challenge today. On one hand, knowing latest happenings in the area of patents helps business in multiple ways, on the other hand, with growing data & increasing number of patent filing, extracting desirable information is extremely tough.

Generating periodic (weekly, monthly or half yearly) patent alerts is one of the most effective tools to track the latest happenings in the area of patents. Published/granted and even abandoned/expired patents can be monitored on regular basis in the technical area of interest to get valuable information on:

“Generating periodic (weekly, monthly or half yearly) patent alerts is one of the most effective tools to track the latest happenings in the area of patents.”

  1. New products/processes for which patent applications have been filed and build up own products to ensure that the same invention is not replicated and also to assess likelihood of patent infringement. In addition to this, since the patents technically disclose the invention, thorough review of the same might be extremely useful to assess chances of getting patent for your core technologies or new idea by knowing novelty, non-obviousness and industrial applicability of the invention.
  1. By knowing published applications, one might want to oppose the applications, which may not be subject matter of a patent or grant of which might affect the business adversely, though there are several other reasons to oppose a patent application or a grant patent.
  1. New markets or new technologies that your competitors are focusing at. This might give you overview of the kind of products they are planning to launch in given markets.

Patent watch can be done primarily in two ways:

Technical Patent Watch: Here you may list out core technology (ies) of interest and monitor newly published patent applications in a technical area of interest as soon as they are published. One may also monitor latest prosecution status of pending patent applications. This way it will be easier to keep in touch with latest happenings and one may also come across interesting patents that may be used and implemented to add value to existing products or technologies.

Such patents may be licensed or if they are not filed in the jurisdiction of interest or they don’t have a chance to be filed in the jurisdiction of interest, it may be used without any fear of infringement. However, it is highly recommended to take opinion of an expert on the legal status of such patent (s) before implementing it. 

Competitor Patent Watch: Knowing patent portfolio and watching patent activity of the competitors may be of great business value. Competitor companies may be listed out and their newly published patent applications may be monitored on periodic basis. However, one may also monitor latest prosecution status of pending patent applications or latest legal status/continuation applications of granted patents of competitor companies.

This information may prove to be a game changing strategy for any company.

Staying ahead of your competitors is critical for sustainability today. With increasing focus on innovation, it becomes important to know about the recent trends in the area of patent filings. It is not only interesting to watch what your competitors are doing or the latest technologies for which patents are being filed in given jurisdiction, but also, it gives you platform which you can use to fine tune your existing products and assess chances of infringement.