Nearly 90% of the existing US patents are never used to earn any money (Greenberg Traurig LLP). Under-utilisation of IP should be of concern to any company with a robust patent portfolio. Usually, when organisations file patents, it is to extract some monetary value from them, otherwise what is the point of spending the time and money to patent an invention?
Patent owners need to remember that patents are an enabling mechanism rather than a defensive right. Patents provide an intangible asset that can be nurtured and managed for greater value extraction. Without the right attention, however, patents can easily be undervalued and dismissed prematurely.
Methods of monetising patents:
- Licensing: patent owners grant rights to interested parties (for example, competitors and/or potential infringers) to manufacture, use and/or sell the patented invention in exchange for royalties.
- Litigation: a patent owner can consider litigation as a route to monetisation. For example, the owner may bring a patent infringement lawsuit in federal court to recover money (damages) for the unauthorised practices of its patent or stop the unauthorised use (injunction).
- Sell: a company could sell a patent for a fixed fee through acquisition. IP or patent brokers specialise in brokering the sale of intangible assets like patents.
- Use it: The patent owner who sells or uses their own patented products can leverage its position as the exclusive patent-right holder for that product.
Regardless of which method you choose to adopt, you should have a good understanding of the value of your patent portfolio before enabling the monetisation strategy. This requires conducting frequent in-depth audits of your portfolio. Ideally, patent owners should aim to run an analysis anytime the portfolio changes, as any change impacts the possibilities for generating revenue.
Also, having a deep understanding of your IP can help highlight any risks or opportunities in the company’s patent portfolio. Find unused IP, correct failures in legal registrations and strategise new plans for monetising or acquiring IP by conducting a patent landscape analysis.
Track the patent environment
A landscape analysis can help you to track patent activity in key jurisdictions and technology areas. This will tell you where the inventions are still protected and can benefit from exclusivity. This analysis can also open internal discussions to consider expanding protection to available untapped authorisations.
You can generate quick patent landscape analyses on PatBase Analytics, the powerful in-built patent data analytics tool on the leading global database, PatBase. The key jurisdictions of a patent portfolio can be analysed when running a patent assignee search on PatBase. The PatBase Analytics auto-generated chart shows the number of patent families, applications and grants in the jurisdictions where a patent application has been filed. This view can help you to spot where in the world your portfolio is saturated and where are potentially untapped markets.
A key indicator of a robust patent portfolio is whether it accomplishes the company’s underlying business goals: either attracting licensing/investment opportunities or withstanding third-party challenges. To evaluate a portfolios robustness, one method is to run a technology landscape analysis to see which fields are well or poorly protected by the existing patents.
This analysis can come in the form of a keyword landscape map, which can be produced on PatBase Analytics, pulling out the top appearing technical keywords in your patent portfolio and presenting the data on a topographical map. This helps to visualise which technology areas are most prevalent in your portfolio and may help you to identify whitespaces that are not explored in your existing IP that could present valuable research and development areas.
Conduct global patent searches for competitor intersection
What is the monetisation goal? Are you looking for a partner overseas, a licence for your IP or a complete sale of your IP and business?
The monetisation process usually starts with an international patent search and a product search. Once you have identified competitors with overlapping or related IP rights or products that touch on your patent(s), it might be in your best interest to approach one or more of the companies about licensing or buying possibilities.
There are many tools available in PatBase to support your patent search. Once you have identified a technology area, you can, for example, run a keyword search across patent documents or a search for specific technical classification codes to create a result set. Then you can run an assignee analysis on PatBase Analytics. By analysing the assignees in a technology/field data set, you will be able to identify the biggest players in this technology area based on the number of filed or granted patents and explore options for opening external discussions.
PatBase is one of the world’s leading global patent databases. Currently hosting over 140 million patent documents, from 106 jurisdictions including 76 full-text collections, PatBase offers one of the most comprehensive and high-quality data collections available. PatBase makes it easy to search, review, save, share and analyse patent information on the user-friendly web-platform. For more information about PatBase and PatBase Analytics, please visit https://minesoft.com/our-products/patbase/ where you can also register for a commitment-free two-week free trial.