By Cassie Fulton ‑ July 12, 2015
We've worked with thousands of IP professionals spanning R&D, portfolio management, patent licensing, IP litigation, M&A and more. Many intellectual property professionals struggle to compare the many patent analysis platforms available in the marketplace because their features tend to sound the same. With this checklist, anyone considering a patent search, patent analytics, or intellectual property business intelligence toolset will get a solid head start to finding the right tool to meet your needs.
While the data sources seem to be similar, the way providers aggregate the data they choose to incorporate and how the software presents the analysis are very different. Decide what’s important to you and ask these questions.
1) DATA COVERAGE AND QUALITY
Patent data is readily available from jurisdictions around the world, along with other patent-related information like patent sales, patent litigation, and patent-related literature. Each patent search or patent analysis software company will provide limited data sets, or limited jurisdiction coverage, or a combination of both. Questions to ask:
2) DATA QUALITY AND CORRELATION
Many patent documents have different spellings for the same company owner names and some patent data elements are simply entered incorrectly (See the IBM example). In addition, M&A activity is happening every day, and those changes need to be captured. Inaccurate or missing data makes for manual data cleanup and potentially incomplete analysis.
With the volume of data always changing worldwide on a weekly basis, no system can be 100% perfect every single moment. When you do find something that’s incorrect, having a process for reporting a correction within the platform is important. There are a number of data points that have to be accounted for, filled in, and reported, how confident will you be in the data process behind the scenes? Better data, updated data and more data give confidence to your analysis.
3) SEARCH METHODS
Every analysis starts with a search to find the relevant patents. More and better search methods allow you to get to the relevant patents faster and more assuredly. There’s nothing worse than missing a relevant patent because your IP analysis tool doesn’t support a certain type of search.
Flexible and fast search methods get you to the relevant patents much more quickly. A broad array of search methods gives you the flexibility to use the best technique to get to the relevant patents whether known or unknown.
4) DISCOVERY TOOLS
If you’re looking into a new technology, one whose terminologies have evolved over time, or similar technologies in adjacent industries, discovery tools are necessary to discover the right terms and to organise the patents to understanding a landscape.
5) PRIORITISING RESULTS
When you get the set of relevant patents from a search, some tools will help prioritise the results for faster drill-down analysis. Without this prioritisation help, you’re stuck evaluating the entire list one by one, which could be hundreds or thousands.
6) RESULTS THAT ARE EASY TO UNDERSTAND
Graphics can convey insights hidden in analysis results and improve the look and feel of a report or presentation. Visualisations of results also aid in the absorption of data and help the reader uncover new insights and make well-informed business decisions. The way information is presented can be just as important as the information itself.
Choose a solution partner who can communicate on the level you need them to in order for the entire team to best understand the report/results. Verbiage, the words utilised on reports, can crystallise or confuse the data itself:
Interactivity can also help in the way data is presented and absorbed. The graphics and content can be perfect but if they are displayed in a way that confuses some users, the message can be lost. Ask for template samples as well as content and visualisation samples.
7) RESULTS THAT YOU CAN CUSTOMISE
A canned visual can be sub-optimal, even distracting. Customising a visual to convey the right insight clearly and without clutter is needed in some scenarios where the template doesn’t quite work. Examples of customisations include removing unnecessary groups of patents or categories in the visual, changing colors, or renaming groups into vernacular your audience uses.
8) SOFTWARE USABILITY
Unnecessary clicks, poorly laid out interfaces and hidden features can frustrate users and affect the search experience tremendously. Depending on how savvy you expect the users to be, here are several things to consider when making a selection:
Time is money and for intellectual property professionals, minutes can translate to millions of dollars in lost – or won – opportunities. Easy to use software with accurate and quick delivery of patent search results means you can iterate and refine the analysis more, learn more, and get to a better answer, faster.
9) SERVICE QUALITY AND VENDOR REPUTATION
No matter how simple patent analysis software is designed to be, learning a new tool presents change to your team. It’s not unheard of to be chased and wooed during the selling process only to be left to figure out the tool by yourself once the ink is dry.
Even after you’re up and running, a good provider will check on you periodically even if there isn’t an issue. A great one will anticipate your needs and address them with immediacy. A key consideration in this area is the level of support you expect the users to require: how savvy are they with software tools in general and how knowledgeable are they about IP. Considerations related to service quality include:
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE RESULTS IN YOUR ABILITY TO DO MORE
Saving time can add up to big dollars. A good partner and an effective toolset will help you and your teams save hours or days. Conducting estimates before shopping for a new patent analytics tool to create a business case that proves the tool will pay for itself quickly.
If you have the time to perform current state analysis, measuring efficiencies that can be produced due to a new analytics tool, the cost-value ratio of the new tool can quickly present itself.
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