Innovation Strategy: How To Develop One For Your Organization and Best Practices

Struggling with innovation? You’re in good company. Despite the widespread recognition of innovation’s significance for growth, a staggering 94% of global executives find their innovation efforts unsatisfactory. 

If you resonate with this struggle, fear not—this article is tailored to your needs. We’ll delve into innovation strategies that can systematize and improve your approach. 

Expect practical tips, real-world examples, and guidelines for success.We’ll also highlight best practices and common pitfalls. 

Ready to fine-tune your innovation strategy? Let’s get started.

What Is an Innovation Strategy?

Quoting Harvard Business Review, an innovation strategy is described as:

“A coherent set of interdependent processes and structures that dictates how the company searches for novel problems and solutions, synthesizes ideas into a business concept and product designs, and selects which projects get funded.”

Innovation strategy tackles essential questions such as when to enter the market, which market to enter, why to enter, how to create value, and more.

Moreover, an innovation strategy outlines your purpose, goals, resource allocation, value creation, and the type of innovation that suits your company best.

Without an innovation strategy, a company is like a ship sailing without a compass—directionless and susceptible to drift. Even with effort and resources, the absence of a guiding strategy can result in wasted potential and missed opportunities, leaving the company vulnerable to falling behind competitors. 

Just as a compass guides a ship, an innovation strategy steers a company toward sustainable growth and a competitive edge.

As we further our journey through innovation strategy, understanding the different forms of innovation can provide crucial insights. 

Types of Innovation

There are four types of innovation based on technological advancement and market impact, as given below:

Innovation Strategy: Types of innovations

1. Incremental Innovation

Incremental innovation, as the name implies, involves making minor enhancements to existing products and services. It may not always grab the headlines since it lacks the excitement of groundbreaking developments, but it’s vital to virtually every organization’s operations. 

As long as it delivers added value to the intended customer base, it qualifies as a form of innovation.

For large-scale enterprises, incremental innovation is akin to striking gold. Even the tiniest tweaks to their processes can yield substantial gains. Similar to how beverage companies constantly innovate in packaging, small innovations in IP management can lead to significant advancements, inspiring packaging innovation in the beverage industry.

Now, let’s delve into a specific approach to incremental innovation, exemplified by Google’s 70-20-10 rule. According to this principle, a whopping 70% of innovation efforts should be funneled into incremental enhancements, with 20% focusing on innovations that bolster the core and the remaining 10% earmarked for radical innovations that birth entirely new business ventures.

Additionally, consider MySQL’s journey in the early 2000s as a prime illustration. MySQL opted for incremental innovations, harnessing an existing codebase and introducing only the must-have features for their target audience. This savvy strategy enabled MySQL to navigate the fiercely competitive landscape of database management systems, culminating in its remarkable acquisition for $1 billion in 2008.

While the examples of Google and MySQL might seem old, the power of incremental innovation has not been reduced. For instance, Spotify continually refines its algorithms to personalize user experiences with incremental innovations. The company’s investment in understanding listening habits allows them to create features like ‘Discover Weekly,’ which keeps users engaged and improves satisfaction — a subtle yet powerful form of incremental innovation.

2. Sustaining Innovation

Sustaining innovation involves rolling out enhanced versions of your solution within an established market, primarily aimed at boosting profitability rather than expanding market share. 

In the case of large corporations, they often pinpoint a specific customer segment and develop upgraded iterations of their solution tailored to their most valued clientele. This approach enables them to command higher profit margins for a “fresh” product, ultimately increasing profits.

Moreover, while incremental and sustaining innovations share similarities, the key distinction lies in their respective objectives. Incremental innovation primarily seeks to maintain user satisfaction among existing customers, whereas sustaining innovation concentrates on elevating or preserving market share and profitability through augmented margins and fresh sales opportunities.

Furthermore, incremental innovations typically involve fewer substantial updates than sustaining innovations.

For instance, the annual release of new MacBooks featuring enhanced processors, designs, displays, and more is a prime example of sustaining innovations. Conversely, incremental innovations encompass software updates, bug fixes, and minor feature enhancements.

3. Radical Innovation

Radical innovations are rare, once-in-a-generation breakthroughs that have the power to transform the world. To achieve such breakthroughs, developing a comprehensive innovation strategy is vital, as outlined in developing a robust innovation strategy for your organization. In everyday conversation, most people use the term ‘innovation’ to describe these game-changing advances.

These innovations leverage cutting-edge technologies to develop products that create entirely new demands in the market. 

For instance, smartphones, televisions, washing machines, and the internet are all considered radical innovations, as they introduced new technologies and revolutionized how we address everyday challenges. 

A more recent example is blockchain, which harnessed technology in a completely novel way, creating a new market valued at $11.2 billion. Apart from that, eCommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay utilized revolutionary technology (the internet) and a new business model to create a market valued at $16.6 trillion (yes, trillion with a ‘T’).

However, it’s important to note that pursuing radical innovations comes with significant levels of uncertainty and can consume a substantial amount of time and resources.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, believes that failure while innovating is normal, and innovators must embrace it. He says:

“You cannot invent and pioneer if you cannot accept failure. To invent, you need to experiment. If you know in advance that it’s going to work, it is not an experiment.”

Achieving a balance between these ambitious endeavors and other ongoing efforts is crucial.

4. Disruptive Innovation

Innovation Strategy: Innovation Model

Source: The Disruptive Innovation Model

Disruptive innovations leverage novel technology or business models to ‘disrupt’ the current market or carve out a new niche.

Initially, these disruptive products often target less profitable lower-end customers before rapidly expanding their reach to higher-end clientele. This strategy stands in contrast to established companies, which typically focus on sustaining innovations tailored to their most valuable customers. 

Disruptors begin by capturing lower market segments and then ascend the ladder.

For instance, during QuickBooks’ introduction, it focused on serving small business owners, while more intricate accounting software catered to larger organizations. Despite offering only half the features, QuickBooks resonated with the lower segment, resulting in exponential growth and eventual dominance in the market.

Read more: 22 Tips to Master the 5 Skills of Disruptive Innovators.

Beyond these four types, there are several other forms of innovation worth exploring; you can find more details here.

Now that we’ve covered various types of innovation your organization could leverage. Let’s talk about the practical aspects of creating a strategy and utilizing popular frameworks to support this process.

How To Create and Execute an Innovation Strategy?

In this section, we’ll explore proven innovation frameworks. Use these insights to shape a tailored strategy for your organization.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a user-centric method of coming up with innovative solutions. It places full focus on the user’s needs and how you can develop desirable, feasible, and viable solutions. Observing users’ actions and building solutions accordingly is the central idea behind design thinking.

The framework has four components:

  • Clarify: Identify your target user’s problems by monitoring product usage, conducting interviews, researching, etc. Create a problem statement using the HMW (How Might We) framework to maximize the opportunity for brainstorming.
  • Ideate: Find possible solutions to the problem statement defined previously. You can come up with multiple ideas for different problems. The key is to allow people to express their wildest ideas.
  • Develop: Create prototypes as soon as possible and discard ideas or solutions that don’t fulfill the user’s needs.
  • Implement: Deploy your solution to your users and share the results with your stakeholders. Continue iterating according to user feedback.
Innovation Strategy: Design Thinking

Source: Stages of Design Thinking 

An illustrative example of design thinking in action is Airbnb’s initiative to enhance customer conversion rates. Facing the problem of low-quality photos hindering bookings, Airbnb applied the ‘Clarify’ stage by identifying the issue. In the ‘Ideate’ stage, they brainstormed solutions by empathizing with customers, realizing that clear pictures mattered most.

For the ‘Develop’ stage, they creatively addressed the problem: taking high-quality photos themselves. The positive results exemplify the success of this seemingly simple solution, representing the ‘Implement’ stage. This iterative approach helped Airbnb not only improve customer experience but also increase their earnings significantly.

Read more: Intrapreneurship Programs Driving Change in Large Organizations

Lean Startup

Introduced by Eric Ries, the Lean Startup framework emphasizes the importance of getting an MVP (minimum viable product) out to test your assumptions.

It uses the ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ feedback loop, which works in the following way:

Hypothesize: Create a problem statement or a hypothesis you wish to test.

Build: Build an MVP that contains only the bare essentials required to fulfill the need.

Measure: Gather data to challenge your assumptions. Is the product viable? Do users like it? Does it fulfill their needs effectively?

Learn: Based on the data gathered, choose whether to pivot or continue in the same direction.

The lean startup method excels in unexplored markets where risks are manageable. Zappos, for instance, applied this methodology when launching its online retail store. They started with a basic e-commerce website, iteratively testing pricing models and experimenting with marketing strategies. This allowed rapid customer base expansion without heavy time or financial commitments in development and marketing.

Stage-Gate Process

The stage-gate process reduces risk in the innovation process by setting ‘gates’ to review progress and assess that you’re on the right track.

It’s an excellent tool for filtering ideas and focusing your resources on the best ones.

Innovation Strategy: Stage Gate Process

As seen in the image, there’s a gate after every important part of the innovation process. For example, one to judge the idea’s quality, another to identify the scope, feasibility, business case, and so on.

The stage-gate process is used heavily in high-risk industries like pharmaceuticals and aerospace to minimize resource wastage.

Blue Ocean Strategy

It’s a popular innovation framework that focuses on creating and dominating “blue oceans” or new markets.

The two main components of this strategy are the ‘Four Actions Framework’ and the ‘Strategy Canvas.’ Here’s a breakdown of each of them:

  • The Strategy Canvas: Plot the value curves of existing companies. For example, this is the value curve of the wine market in the US before the introduction of Casella Wines:
Innovation Strategy: Blue Ocean Strategy

Source: Blue Ocean Strategy

Here are the four components of the Four Actions Framework:

  • Eliminate: Factors in the existing market that you must eliminate
  • Raise: Factors that you must raise above the standard
  • Create: New factors that you should create to add value
  • Reduce: Factors that you should reduce

This is how Casella Wines created a new curve using the Four Actions Framework:

Innovation Strategy: Yellow Tail

Source: Yellow Tail

There’s also the 6 PATH framework to identify and create blue oceans.

Jobs To Be Done

Clayton Christensen, in his book “Competing Against Luck”, suggested that JTBD is a theory–not a framework–that helps you understand the ‘job’ that a person ‘hires’ a product/service for. It enables you to go past stats and understand the story behind the purchase.

Focusing on jobs rather than just the functional aspect of the product helps you come up with innovative solutions for problems you didn’t even know existed.

You must conduct interviews to build a ‘job spec’ that contains the functional, social, and emotional dimensions that define desired progress, the tradeoffs, competing solutions, obstacles and anxieties, etc.

With the frameworks out of the way, let’s go over some actionable steps you can use to create an innovation strategy for your organization:

Step 1. Establish the ‘Why’ and Innovation Objectives

Every strategy starts by answering ‘why.’ Be it your business strategy, marketing strategy, or price strategy.

In this case, you must answer why your company wants to innovate and how it ties into the larger business plan.

After that, you need to establish your objectives for innovation. Here are a few questions you can ask to clarify them:

  • What is the desired outcome: increased market share, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, etc?
  • Who is the target audience and beneficiary of our product?
  • Quantifiable goals
  • How will innovation differentiate us from our competition

These questions will help you identify the scope of your innovation strategy, too: Will it be limited to sustainable/incremental innovations to grow the core business, or will it focus more on disruptive/radical innovations to expand into other markets?

Step 2. Identify Problems in Your Industry

The next part of your innovation strategy is finding the problems you aim to solve. 

The key to this step is running insightful customer interviews that uncover why people use certain products. Remember, your interviews should lead to stories, not stats.

You can create a ‘job spec’ as outlined in the JTBD theory to help you find why people use a product. It contains the following information:

  • Functional, emotional, and social dimensions that define the user’s desired progress
  • Tradeoffs the customer is willing to make
  • Competing solutions that you must beat
  • Obstacles and anxieties that the customer must overcome

You can also use the Four Actions framework discussed previously to find new market segments.

Also, conduct a competitive analysis to find gaps your innovations can fill.

Step 3. Resource Allocation

A balanced allocation of resources will help you achieve a good ROI on your innovation investment. 

Research shows that 70% of investment in the core business, 20% in adjacent enterprises, and 10% in transformational innovations work best. 

However, you can change it to suit your ambition and the company’s needs. Early-stage companies invest more in transformative/disruptive technologies, while market leaders might focus on their core business.

The major resources you need are talented individuals, cash, time, and equipment. 

Step 4. Brainstorming Solutions

Your strategy should contain a general idea of your methodology to develop solutions. It will help streamline the process and make it scalable.

Design Thinking and Lean Startup are two popular frameworks we’ve discussed for that.

Both of them emphasize one idea: iteration. You must understand the problem, develop an MVP/prototype as soon as possible, and get it out in the market to test your assumptions.

While lean startup focuses on the data side, design thinking is more concerned with empathizing with users and satisfying them.

The best approach would be to integrate elements from both frameworks to suit your organization’s goals and needs.

Step 5. Building Scalable Systems

Scaling innovation is the key to sustaining your market position. For that, you need proper systems in place.

First, you must achieve executive buy-in and encourage them to include innovation in all strategic planning, budgeting, and resource allocation initiatives. You can only innovate at scale when your company’s culture encourages and doesn’t treat it like a side thought.

Second, you can implement a crowdsourcing system to get potential ideas from employees, customers, stakeholders, etc.

And finally, you can implement the stage-gate process to filter through these ideas and focus your resources on the most impactful ones.

Must Read: 20 Ways of Using ChatGPT for Innovation

Common Pitfalls While Developing an Innovation Strategy

We’ve talked about frameworks, tools, and steps to implement an innovation strategy, but let’s explore some pitfalls you must avoid falling into while doing so.

Pitfall #1: Weak Market Research

Innovation revolves around solving problems people care about. If you conduct inadequate market research, you could end up:

  • Wasting resources on a bad idea
  • Wasting resources on the right idea but for the wrong people
  • Getting left behind by competition

That’s why conducting solid customer interviews, market assessments, and competitive analysis is essential. You must also share these insights with everyone in the process to avoid failure.

Pitfall #2: Strategic Misalignment

According to a PwC study, 77% of successful innovators said their innovation strategy was closely aligned with their business strategy.

The opposite was also true: companies with strategic misalignment are not doing too great on the innovation scale.

The problem with strategic misalignment is that it disconnects innovation from the rest of the business and makes it a task you do for the sake of it. It also leads to innovation becoming an afterthought, which can never lead to breakthroughs sustainably.

Pitfall #3: Limited Diversity

The two most important things fueling innovation are talent and perspective. You can’t innovate without the correct set of people who express unique, contrarian viewpoints.

Many companies make similar types of people work on innovative ideas, which usually doesn’t end well. Diversity in ideas leads to disruptive insights.

Thus, you must hire and allocate talent accordingly.

Must Read: Strategies for Implementing Effective Innovation Pipeline Management

How the TIP ToolTM Fuels Innovation Culture

Innovation Strategy: Triangle IP

Triangle IP is one of the leading providers of patent management software. It allows you to capture and track the progress of innovative ideas throughout your organization.

The TIP ToolTM boosts your organization’s innovation culture and innovator engagement by providing visibility to people, allowing them to realize the impact of their ideas.

Some of its features are:

  • Ideas and patent pipeline management platform to identify bottlenecks and calibrate patent prosecution strategy
  • Simple and intuitive Invention disclosure forms to capture ideas and boost participation in your company’s innovation and patent program
  • Real-time collaboration like Google Docs within the tool to bring innovators, patent attorneys and business teams together
  • Case analytics and the probability of it being approved
  • Cost predictions to estimate the cost of a patent over years
  • Automatic USPTO updates to save you expensive attorney hours

Start a free trial to try out the TIP tool for your organization today!

How to Estimate the Full Cost of Your Patent with this Free Patent Cost Estimator

Free Patent Cost Estimator

To create a budget for your patenting efforts, you need accurate projections of what you will spend and when you will spend it. But the cost of obtaining a patent varies widely depending on many factors, including your technology field. The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) conducts an annual economic survey that even accounts for regional variations in legal fees.

You might be able to ask your outside patent counsel for an estimate of your immediate upcoming costs. But this estimate can usually only cover the work your lawyers know about, namely the applications you have assigned and the office actions you have received. Your patent counsel cannot estimate fees for work you have not yet assigned.

Instead, you need an in-house tool that generates a cost estimate based on the ideas your innovators are working on. By getting cost information earlier in the process, you can choose which ideas justify their patenting costs and schedule your patent work to take control of your patent budget.

Budgeting Difficulties Come From the Variety and Unpredictability of Costs You Will Incur

Patent budgeting is difficult for two main reasons. First, you will incur a variety of costs to get your patent. As a general rule of thumb, one-third of your costs come from government fees, one-third from legal fees to draft the patent application and one-third from prosecuting the patent application.

But this rule does not hold true for every technology field. Simple mechanical inventions might incur significantly lower drafting fees but significantly higher prosecution expenses because the universe of mechanical prior art references is broader. Electronic and software inventions might have higher drafting fees due to the detail needed to explain the invention but lower prosecution expenses because of a higher likelihood of issuance and fewer rounds of office actions.

Some common expenses you will need to estimate to accurately budget for a patent include:

  • Attorney’s drafting fees, including fees for a patent illustrator to create patent drawings
  • Government filing fees
  • Attorney fees to prepare and file the information disclosure statements and any missing parts
  • Legal fees for responding to any restriction requirements and office action rejections
  • Patent Office issuance fees
  • Periodic maintenance fees after issuance

Some of the variables that may affect your prosecution costs include the art unit where your application was assigned, the patent examiner you received, and the number of office actions sent. It will also depend on how you choose to respond to those office actions. For example, interviewing a case might resolve your case quickly, but the interview will often require more preparation than a written response. A written response or RCE might cost less, but also have a lower likelihood of allowance.

If you file any international or foreign applications, you will incur additional fees. These fees will vary widely by country depending on local counsel fees, translation fees, and filing fees.

Must Read: Five Ways to Deal with the Challenges of IP Budget Allocation

Get Exactly the Cost Information You Need From the Free Patent Cost Estimator

Triangle IP’s TIP Tool provides exactly the information you usually cannot get from your outside counsel, foreign agents, and the Patent Office. With the touch of a button, you receive a breakdown of the short-term and long-term costs you will incur for a filing.

The free patent cost estimator uses a description of the invention to predict the costs. As a result, you can get a cost estimate without filing an application or even talking to your outside patent counsel. All you need is a brief summary of the idea from your inventors.

When you enter your idea summary into the TIP Tool, the patent end-to-end cost estimate will appear in the “predicted statistics” field. This estimate breaks down the predicted costs across the entire lifetime of a patent, from preparation and filing to maintenance. This estimate even predicts the number of office actions based on the technological field and the prosecution fees you will incur.

The estimate also breaks down those costs so you can see how much you will incur at each stage and when you might incur those costs. You can use this cost data to not only get an overall cost estimate but also a breakdown of the timing of the costs.

For example, the free patent cost estimator can tell you your total estimated costs, your next cost to be incurred, and the costs remaining for your patent/patent application.

The free patent cost estimator develops its estimates using the legal fees you enter in the administrative settings. You can adjust the amounts you want the TIP Tool to use for cost estimates by accessing the cost details screen in the Admin Panel.

Try Our Free Patent Cost Estimator

Estimating your patent costs will give you the power to prioritize your patent filings, control your costs, and plan your patent portfolio. Try out the TIP Tool’s free patent cost estimator by registering on the app.

Everything You Need to Know About Patent Family Trees and Patent Family Tree Generators

patent family tree generator and visualization

A patent family is a group of related patent applications. In most cases, a patent family covers related inventions or features. To take a simple example, an inventor and her patent lawyer might file a patent application for an early version of an invention and a related patent application for an improved version of an invention.

These relationships have legal effects. Child applications receive certain benefits from their parents. Understanding these intricacies is vital for creating an effective global patent portfolio strategy. These benefits tell you the prior art that can be used against the patent family and when the invention’s features act as prior art against others.

Patent practitioners, inventors, IP owners, technology investors, and patent licensees must understand these relationships to make the most of their patent portfolios. One technique to quickly distill this information is through a patent family tree that visually represents the patent family relationships. Through this visualization, you can quickly identify family relationships and gather the information you need from them.

Patent family tree generators are a relatively new tool category. In the past, patent lawyers or paralegals would need to read a patent’s priority claims and manually construct a family tree. This process was time-consuming and prone to errors.

Patent family tree generators from Patentscope, Espacenet, and Triangle IP develop patent family trees automatically. These tools can also create a variety of visualizations so observers can quickly glean patent family information from them.

Patent Families

A patent family is a group of patent applications and patents with interrelating priority claims. A priority claim allows a later-filed application to use the filing date of an earlier-filed application to determine how it relates to prior art references.

To understand the significance of a priority claim, here is an example. Suppose you filed a patent application that claimed Feature A. After filing the patent application, you started marketing your product, including Feature A. You then invent an improvement to the product with Feature A+.

In the U.S., a feature is patentable if it was not known or obvious in view of what was known on the filing date. When Feature A+ is examined, the patent application and product with Feature A could be used as prior art against the application with Feature A+.

A priority claim allows the patent application with Feature A+ to use the filing date of the patent application with Feature A. Now that it has an earlier filing date, neither the patent application nor the product containing Feature A will constitute prior art.

How Do I Determine Which Patents Are Part of the Same Patent Family?

To understand which applications are part of the patent family, you must understand the different types of claims that a patent application can contain. In the U.S., a patent application can claim the priority of an earlier-filed patent application that was still pending as of the filing date of the later-filed application.

Thus, a patent application filed on January 1, 2023, could claim the priority of a patent application filed on July 1, 2022, if the 2022 application was not abandoned or issued on January 1, 2023.

Types of Priority Claims

The priority claims that can create a patent family include the following:

Continuation Applications

A continuation application happens when the applicant decides to file the same application without adding any new matter. These applications often play a significant role in leveraging patents for investment purposes due to their evolving nature. The typical reason for filing a continuation application is to seek additional claim scope.

One example of where this could happen is if the patent issues with a narrow set of claims and the applicant wants to pursue broader claims through a continuation application. Another example of where this could happen is if the patent gets filed (and it’s pending) with a set of claims directed to one aspect or embodiment, and the applicant wants to pursue claims for a different aspect or embodiment.

Continuation-in-Part (CIP) Applications

A continuation-in-part application includes the substance of the parent application but adds new matter. These applications get filed when an applicant wants to pursue claims for an improved version of the invention with new features or modifications of the old features.

Divisional Applications

Patent applications can only claim one invention. When an application claims more than one invention, the examiner can issue a restriction requirement. This restriction requirement forces the applicant to choose one of the inventions for examination in the pending application.

A divisional application includes the exact disclosure of the original application but claims the non-elected invention for examination.

Non-Provisional Applications Based on Provisional Applications

U.S. patent law allows inventors to file provisional applications. A provisional application creates an official record of an invention’s disclosure. Importantly, a provisional receives a priority date for the invention as it was described in the application.

The provisional filing only holds this priority date for one year. To keep that priority date, the applicant must file a non-provisional application claiming the priority of that provisional application. If the applicant fails to file the non-provisional application before the deadline, the priority date gets lost forever.

U.S. National Stage Applications Based on International or Foreign Applications

The U.S. is a member of several international agreements that allow U.S. applications to claim priority to applications filed with non-U.S. patent offices. The most common way to file these applications is with a national-stage application.

A national-stage application contains the same matter as the foreign or international application that serves as its priority document. The national stage application includes an English translation but does not include any new matter.

Patent Family Relationships

You can visualize the members of a patent family by starting with the earliest-filed application. Patent attorneys refer to this application as the parent application.

Divisional applications get the same filing date as the parent application and sit at the same generational level as the parent application. As such, you can think of these applications as twins of the parent application because they were “born” at the same time and contain the same matter.

Continuation applications also have the same filing date as the parent application. Thus, they sit at the same generational level as the parent application. Since they cannot contain any new matter, these are considered twins of the parent application.

National-stage applications also get a U.S. filing date that is the same as the foreign or international application filing date. As a result, these are considered clones of foreign or international applications.

CIP applications that claim priority to that application are child applications. Since they can contain new matter, non-provisional applications that claim the priority of a provisional application can also be thought of as child applications. But most patent lawyers would view these as more of an evolved or grown-up version of the provisional application.

Bear in mind that a patent application can claim the priority of multiple prior applications and patents. Thus, a CIP could have multiple parents. Additionally, you can create families of families. So, an application could be the CIP of a CIP or a divisional of a national-stage application. Thus, you could end up with grandchildren, great-grandchildren, children of siblings, and so forth.

Identifying the Patents in a Patent Family

The priority claims that identify family relationships are usually included in a patent application when it gets filed. For example, the electronic or paper transmittal that accompanies a patent application will usually list any related applications by title, filing date, and application serial number or patent number.

In U.S. patent documents, the body of the application or patent also includes a list of related applications along with the type of relationship. For example, an application might say, “The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. XX/XXX,XXX, titled ‘Patent Title,’ filed on January 15, 2023.”

But there is no guarantee you will be able to find this information when you look for it. Applicants can apply without any priority claims and amend the application during its pendency to include them. Applicants may also decide later to expand the priority claims to include more patents and applications.

Sometimes, this happens out of necessity. For example, if a patent examiner rejects your claims due to one of your earlier filed patents, one option to eliminate that reference as prior art is to claim it as part of the rejected application’s family.

Other times, this may happen when the patent attorney or patent paralegal realizes that a priority claim was inadvertently omitted. When they review the patent family tree, they might realize that the application needs to be amended to add a priority claim.

In either case, the pendency of the subject application must have overlapped with the pendency of the priority document. If the priority document was issued or abandoned on the subject application’s priority date, a priority claim cannot be made.

Using INPADOC to Identify Members of a Patent Family

Rather than combing through the patent transmittals and specifications for priority claims, a database maintained by the European Patent Office (EPO) allied INPADOC can help you identify the members of a patent family. INPADOC uses publicly available information from patent offices around the world to record patent relationships and statuses.

Importantly, this database shows relationships that cross international borders. So, INPADOC would show a parent document filed in Japan, an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty filed from the Japanese application, and a subsequent national-stage application in the U.S. Patent Office.

Importantly, INPADOC can only show publicly available information, and it only gets updated once per week. As a result, your results from the database will need to be updated periodically if you plan to monitor an INPADOC patent family.

Patent Family Trees

Patent family trees provide a visual representation of a patent family. Like a genealogical family tree, a patent family tree allows a viewer to quickly identify the relationships between related patents and patent applications.

A good patent family tree will allow you to instantly research the history of a particular patent. It will provide:

  • A visual representation of other patents and applications in the family
  • Links illustrating the relationships among the patent family members
  • Bibliographical information about the patents and applications in the family

You research the history of a particular patent by tracing the links between the subject patent to its predecessors and successors. This can help you identify the earliest patent application to contain the subject matter of the patent you are researching. It will also tell you the earliest priority date claimed.

Intermediate patents in the family can also help your analysis. CIP applications can add new matter or even alter what has been described. Understanding the family line in a family tree of a patent or patent application can help you understand how the language used to describe the invention has evolved.

For example, if the subject patent application claims the feature B2, you can use the patent family tree to identify when B2 first appears, how it differs from B1, and when B1 became B2. Equally importantly, you can trace the family back even further to identify the original feature B and when B1 was first disclosed.

Patent family visualizations can take two forms:

Traditional Patent Family Tree Visualization

In one form, the patent family tree looks like a genealogical family tree. Each box in the family tree represents a separate patent or patent application. The boxes are placed on a horizontal time scale that shows each application’s filing date.

The earliest-filed family members, usually the parents, sit at the top of the tree. The children sit below those applications with lines showing familial relationships. So, in the example family tree below, the subject application (shown in green) has two parents, two children in the U.S., and two foreign children.

US13/232,156 Patent Family Tree, Generated using The TIP Tool

Gantt Family Tree Visualization

In the Gantt family tree, each patent application is shown as a bar. The horizontal axis represents time. The location and length of the bar for each patent application represent its filing date and expiration date or anticipated expiration date.

A Gantt chart can use different colors to identify different stages in a patent application’s life. For example, a bar can include a green segment for the pendency of the patent application and a blue segment for the term of the issued patent.

This type of visualization allows you to quickly identify the pendency of each application and determine which family members were filed during that time to create a valid priority claim. This type of visualization also quickly illustrates the expiration of each patent in the family.

US13/232,156 Patent Family Tree (Gantt Chart Style), Generated using The TIP Tool

Patent Bibliographical Information

Additional information for a patent application in the family tree can be viewed in a popup that appears when the user hovers over or clicks on a bar or box representing a patent or application. The information can give the serial number and filing date. It can even include other useful information like the inventors’ names and patent abstract. The representation of the application could include links to the text of the subject application.

Bibliographical information popup

Using a Patent Family Tree

Patent family trees can help inventors, patent lawyers and paralegals, and corporate counsel to:

Assess the Strength or Value of a Patent Portfolio

The strength and value of a patent portfolio are usually measured by its validity, breadth, interconnectedness, and lifespan. You can assess these characteristics using a patent family tree visualization.

The first characteristic, validity, is largely influenced by the earliest date of the patent family. This date tells you the age of the prior art you must use to try to invalidate the patents and applications in the family. Generally speaking, an earlier date makes a patent portfolio stronger because the universe of potentially invalidating prior art is smaller.

The breadth of a patent portfolio tells you how much subject matter the patent family’s claims cover. While more patent applications do not necessarily make a family broader, the size of the family could suggest broader claim coverage. To take an extreme example, a single patent will probably not have the breadth of a twelve-member patent family.

Interconnectedness requires you to use the patent family tree to identify the members of the family and read their claims to determine each individual application’s scope. This will help you determine what each family member adds to the overall breadth of the family. 

Interconnectedness tells you whether the patent owner left gaps between the individual patents. To analogize, a 10-mile wide net has breadth, but it lacks interconnectedness if it has one-mile wide gaps.

Lifetime goes to two factors. First, you need to know how much patent term is left in the patent family. In the U.S., the patent term is measured from the priority date of the earliest priority document. Later-filed patent applications in a family might lose time off its term compared to creating a new family.

Second, you need to know if the family has any pending applications. This allows an acquiring entity to continue to add family members to the patent family. A patent family might have value simply because of what it could become as more applications get added to it.

Identify Potential Competitors or Partners in an Industry

Competitors or partners usually have a few relationships:

  • Different solutions to the same problem
  • Complementary solutions to a problem
  • Same customers or same suppliers
  • Supplier/customer relationship

In all of these situations, you want to know the inventions in other companies’ patents. But a patent family can tell you where another company’s future thinking is headed. Patent applications will show you future products, improvements, and modifications other companies have in mind.

A patent family can even tell you how those features have evolved. For example, if you see a whole family covering Feature C, C1, C2, C3, and so forth, you know the other company is probably focused on Feature C and its variants. While every industry is unique, this type of business intelligence can open the door for a competitive advantage over, or a partnership with, the other company.

Identify Potential Licensing Opportunities or Infringing Products

This intelligence can also tell you whether any other companies are coming close to your technology. If you own a patent that claimed Feature D and your competitor’s patent family tree reveals that it is creeping closer and closer to Feature D, you have an opportunity to offer a license to the competitor to use Feature D. Alternatively, you might choose to warn your competitor away from using Feature D or risk infringing.

If you want to move proactively, you might even create your own patent family by filing some applications for variations on Feature D. This will give you a stronger position in both licensing and infringement by cutting off potential alternative designs that get around your patent.

Track and Maintain a Patent Portfolio

You can create a family tree to help you track, manage, and maintain your patent portfolio. Seeing applications represented visually will help you keep all the interrelationships straight in your mind. A patent family tree can also help you identify and plug gaps in your patent portfolio.

Formerly, patent family trees were generated manually. Your patent attorney or paralegal would read each patent or application and enter the priority data into a spreadsheet. You would then use the graphing function of the spreadsheet software to create a family tree. As you filed further patent applications in the family, you would update the spreadsheet so you could update the family tree.

Unfortunately, there was no way to verify a family tree’s accuracy and usefulness except by brute force. You would hire a patent lawyer to review your family tree, which meant paying a few hundred dollars per hour to have someone review and correct your spreadsheet. But there was no way to automatically update or verify your family tree.

This has changed. You have several tools available to you to automatically create family trees and verify them against available patent databases.

Patent Family Tree Generators

Patent family tree generators use patent databases like the U.S. Patent Office’s PAIR and INPADOC to generate a patent family tree. Since they use databases used by the U.S. Patent Office and the European Patent Office (EPO), the family tree will accurately represent the relationships between different patents in a family.

But the publicly available databases lag actual filings since many of the databases only contain published data. This ensures that private data remains private for as long as the applicable jurisdiction’s laws allow. For example, in the U.S. publications occur 18 months after the filing date unless the applicant requests early publication. As a result, the U.S. Patent Office’s Public PAIR database always lacks the most recent 18 months of applications.

Another concern of inventors and patent owners is cost. Some patent docketing software suites can generate patent family trees. But these packages can cost tens of thousands of dollars and require a massive server to process data. And some of these packages only use the docket to generate a patent family tree and do not verify it against the patent office databases.

Three free patent family tree generators overcome both these issues. These tools generate patent family trees for free. And they are cloud-based, so they run entirely online instead of on a server in your business.

These free patent tree tools include:

  • Patentscope from the World Intellectual Property Organization plots a broad family tree without any deeper details
  • Espacenet from the EPO generates a record table showing an application’s family, but it does not plot a family tree
  • The TIP Tool from Triangle IP creates patent family tree visualizations with details about each family member

Also read: Three Free Ways to Generate Patent Family Tree Visualizations.

The next section will review one of these tools, The TIP Tool, in greater detail.

The TIP Tool’s Patent Family Tree Generator

Ideally, a patent family tree generator will have several features:

  • Easy to use
  • Secure
  • Provide different visualizations
  • Current, verifiable patent data
  • Free

The TIP Tool has both a free and paid version of its patent family tree generator. In either version, you create a family tree from the TIP Tool dashboard. You will select the “Portfolio Manager” option and then “Add patent applications.” The software will populate a list of the patent applications in your portfolio under the “Filed Applications” tab.

When you select the application of interest, the TIP Tool will display the selected patent’s family tree. The difference between the paid version and the free version is the information provided in your family tree. If you have the free version, the TIP Tool will use the USPTO Public PAIR database and only populate the family tree publicly available, i.e., published, patent data for these US applications. Also, the family tree would contain information of only the direct parent and/or child applications of the application in interest.

Further, this tree also provides information on the extended family i.e. applications that may not be a direct parent and/or child of the application in interest, but that cover the same technology area and might be in direct relation to the parent and/or child application. These could also be the same application filed in other countries.

TIP Tool Family Tree Visualizations

The TIP Tool can present family trees in either the traditional or Gantt visualization. The traditional visualization shows each patent or patent application as a separate block in the family tree diagram. The blocks are positioned on a horizontal scale based on their filing date and a vertical scale based on their family relationships. Parent applications appear at the top and child applications appear below it.

Arrows point from parent applications to the application of interest. Arrows also point from the subject application to child applications. The graphical representation gives you an instant understanding of the family relationships among the patents and patent applications in the family. This visual representation can help you understand complex relationships among family members. It can also give you a complete understanding of more distant relatives in the family tree, such as international or foreign applications or sibling divisional or continuation applications.

The horizontal position of the boxes tells you the filing dates of the applications in the patent family. This spatial positioning tells you, at a glance, the order and time gap between the filing dates.

US16/548,515 Patent Family Tree, Generated using The TIP Tool

The TIP Tool can also display a patent family tree on a Gantt chart. Each application in the family tree is displayed as a bar. The length of the bar tells you the filing date, pendency, and expiration date. Importantly, this visualization can instantly tell you the amount of time that the applications overlap.

US16/548,515 Patent Family Tree (Gantt Chart Style), Generated using The TIP Tool

The bars include printed information to show which application is your application of interest and the types of documents with a family relationship to it. Different document types have different printed legends like PRO for provisional applications and CON for continuation applications.

Deep links connect the boxes in the visualization to detailed information about each patent application or patent. The Gantt chart is interactive and updates as you modify the application of interest in the family tree.

As a result, you get a clean display free of clutter. The Gantt chart only displays the patents and patent applications with direct priority claims and eliminates from the view grandparent or sibling relationships.

Also read: How to Effortlessly Use the TIP Tool’s Free Patent Family Tree Generator.

Using Patent Family Tree Generators in Your Business

Patent families are important tools for creating a web of interconnected patents and patent applications. They are particularly useful in strategies for patent monetization due to their interconnected nature. Using free tools like the TIP Tool and others can give you an instant understanding about your patent portfolio and those of your competitors. The visualizations you generate will assist you to better manage and plan your patents and applications. It can also help you analyze the patent portfolios of other companies in your business to identify commercial opportunities.

To learn more about the TIP Tool and its patent family tree generator, access the free demo playground.

9 Features to Look for in a Patent Family Tree Generator Software

Patent Family Tree Generator Software

A patent family tree can provide valuable information about your patent portfolio and competitors’ patents. But manually mapping out a patent family tree is labor-intensive and time-consuming.

There are some free patent family tree generators available out there, but not all are intuitively designed to give the full picture. The solutions available have different features and functions. As you search for a patent family tree generator software solution, some helpful features include:

  1. Ease of generating a patent family tree
  2. Traditional patent family tree visualization
  3. Gantt Chart style visualization
  4. Coverage for both simple and extended patent families
  5. Ability to quickly toggle between simple and extended patent family trees
  6. Ability to view the relationship between selected family members
  7. Markers for intuitive experience, for instance:
    1. Country Flags
    2. Type of Family Member
    3. Dates
  8. Handy links for additional information 
  9. Ability to add family members

1. Ease of Generating a Patent Family Tree

To generate a complete patent family tree, one must draw from many data sources, including patent offices worldwide. However, there are patent family tree generators that can gather this information automatically and populate the family tree visualization accurately. All they need is a single patent application number as input from the user.

2. Traditional Patent Family Tree Visualization

The software solution should provide a traditional patent family tree visualization. This visualization will include arrows pointing from parents to the selected patent. It also includes arrows from the selected patent to children.

A traditional family tree clearly displays the relationships between the parents and children in the family tree. As a result, users can quickly and easily understand complex patent families with multiple parents and children. These family trees also display more distantly related parents, such as grandparents or siblings.

Ideally, each entry in the family tree falls on a timeline. The spatial position of the entries tells you the order in which the applications were filed and the gap between filing dates.

Patent Family Tree Triangle IP

3. Gantt Chart Style Visualization

A Gantt chart instantly identifies the relationships between applications through multiple colored bars that each represent a separate application. Incorporating such visual tools is vital for developing effective patent filing strategies that consider timelines and overlaps. The position and length of the bars give a visual representation of:

  • Priority date
  • Filing date
  • Pendency period
  • Issue date
  • Time overlap between applications

Colors distinguish the different phases of a patent application. The length of the bars shows when issued patents will expire and when pending applications will expire if issued.

Gantt charts provide a clean, uncluttered visualization because it only shows applications with direct priority claims and not indirect claims through other priority documents.

Patent Family Tree Triangle IP

4. Coverage for both simple and extended patent families

Ideally, the patent family tree generator should have an intuitive user interface. Utilizing tools that interface seamlessly with the USPTO Patent Center can greatly enhance the management of patent information. The software should allow users to select a patent of interest and automatically pull information from related patent applications from the various patent office databases.

By pulling information directly from patent office databases, the software should gather all family members, including:

  • Provisionals
  • Continuations
  • Continuations-in-part
  • Divisionals
  • Foreign and international priority applications
  • National entry applications

This information can give you the fullest picture of simple as well as extended families.

5. Ability to Quickly Toggle Between Simple and Extended Patent Family Trees

The information you need in a patent family tree will vary depending on its use. Sometimes, you only need to understand the parents and children of a selected patent. Other times, you need a full picture of all related applications, including grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings (including members in non-US jurisdictions). The patent tree generator software should allow users to toggle between these two views without regenerating the entire family tree each time.

6. Ability to View Relationship Between Selected Family Members in a Complex Patent Family Tree

With many potential types of relationships, patent family trees can get complicated. Family members can be related as continuations, continuations-in-part, divisionals, provisionals, and foreign and international priority documents.

A patent family tree generator should give you the ability to quickly identify the relationships between selected family members. This could happen through popup windows, hover-over boxes, or other informational displays.

7. Markers for Intuitive Experience

The idea behind a patent family tree visualization is that users should be able to grasp complex information quickly. A glance at a box should tell users most of what they need to know without needing to click on each box or, worse yet, leave the patent family tree visualization to view a different information screen.

Some markers that could give instant information include:

Country Flags

Country flags can show users instantly which national or regional patent office handled the application or issued the patent. These markers will provide this information visually without needing to click on the box representing the application.

Type of Family Member

Abbreviations or colors can help viewers quickly identify the type of family member according to the type of application or relationship to the subject application. For example, PRO could identify provisional applications, and CON could identify continuation applications.


Markers can show users the relevant dates associated with a patent, including the filing date, issue date, and expiration date. This information can be presented as text or based on the position of the patent on a timeline.

8. Links for Additional Information

Hyperlinks in the patent family tree visualization should take users to an information screen about the family member. Ideally, this information should come directly from the patent office handling the application or patent. This allows users to get all the information necessary to investigate the application directly from the family tree visualization. Preferably, users should also be able to access the full text of the subject application or patent through a link in the patent family tree software.

9. Ability to Add Family Members

Some software solutions that automatically populate a patent family tree might miss out on a couple of applications as it only uses information from patent office databases. Newly filed applications might not show up immediately. For example, some patent offices only update their public databases on a weekly basis.

The patent family tree generator software should allow users to manually add family members to keep their patent family tree up to date. It could draw information from their patent portfolio management system so that the family tree always matches the user’s docket.

Picking Patent Tree Generator Software

One of the most important features of a patent family tree generator is the ability to try the software for free before you commit to using it. This will allow you to plot your patent portfolio on a family tree to get a clear picture of what you have and what you can do with it.

Three Free Ways to Generate Patent Family Tree Visualizations

Three Free Ways to Generate Patent Family Tree Visualizations

Presently, the creation of patent family tree visualizations falls on the shoulders of patent lawyers and their paralegals, a process that involves extensive manual labor. 

This often involves reviewing online patent databases and parsing priority claims; a task made all the more difficult by the potential for incomplete records. To streamline this labor-intensive process, understanding the structure and utility of patent family trees and their generators is invaluable.

To ensure a thorough and accurate representation, a skilled practitioner would also take the time to review the application cover sheet and transmittal, as well as the priority claims contained within the application itself. 

However, despite the best efforts of these professionals, it is not uncommon for important priority documents or relationships to be overlooked.

There may also be costs associated with obtaining copies of patent documents and accessing information about patents and their family members.

So if you can find a free way to plot patent family trees that offer global coverage across multiple jurisdictions in a visually engaging way–you are all set.

Three Free Tools to Generate Patent Family Tree Visualizations

For your convenience here are three free tools you can choose from to generate patent family trees. Each of these free tools offer different benefits in terms of coverage, intuitive visualization like a Gantt chart, easy access to additional information while analyzing family trees, etc.

For enterprises managing extensive patent portfolios, leveraging top enterprise innovation software can significantly enhance this analytical capability.

  • Patentscope by WIPO provides a free visualization tool that plots a broad family tree but lacks the deeper details
  • Espacenet by European Patent Office provides a free table with records from the application’s family tree but does not provide a visualization
  • The TIP ToolTM by Triangle IP provides both traditional and Gantt visualizations for the patent or application of interest with all the required details about the family members

Let’s go a level deeper to understand the benefits of each of these free tools to ease the tool selection process.


Patentscope is a public database maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It covers all patent applications and issued patents from Patent Cooperation Treaty members, including the patent offices of Europe, Japan, and the U.S.

You create patent family tree visualizations by accessing Patentscope. Select “ID/Number” in the search box, enter the patent application number, and open the chosen patent application. Patentscope gives you the option to select “Patent Family” to view the selected patent’s family tree.

The family tree appears on a static timeline. Each bar in the patent family tree corresponds to the relevant dates associated with the application. The priority document appears in blue.

Patentscope gives a clear visualization that presents the dates of application and publication in chronological order below the family tree. The tree also shows the relationships between applications. Each document number links to the corresponding publication in the WIPO database.

Patentscope does suffer from some drawbacks. The details of a document do not appear when the user hovers over the document’s entry on the tree. Instead, you must use the text list to understand the relationships. As a result, the relationships between documents are not necessarily clear from the visualization. Also, the timeline has a fixed scale that you cannot shrink.


Espacenet is a patent database maintained by the European Patent Office (EPO). To create patent family tree visualizations, you go to the Espacenet search page and enter the patent application number. View the results and open the desired patent application. Select “Patent Family” and “INPADOC Family” to view the selected application’s family tree.

The family tree from Espacenet appears as static tabs. In Espacenet, patent family trees are integrated into the main menu, so users do not need to shuffle between different formats to reach the family tree information. And the tree shows the entire patent family tree in a chronological list.

But Espacenet does not provide a visualization of the applications. This inhibits you from understanding the parent-child relationships between the application of interest and other issued patents and pending applications at a glance. Instead, you must read the tabs.

The TIP Tool™ by Triangle IP

The TIP Tool™ provides a suite of functions for medium-sized enterprises to systematize their patent mining processes. To create a patent family tree, you access the TIP Tool™ dashboard and select “Portfolio Manager.”

Select “Add patent applications” to retrieve patent application data and choose the patent once the data refreshes under the “Filed applications” tab. There, you can view the selected patent’s family tree. The family tree can optionally include non-public information from Private PAIR if you have an account with the USPTO and access to Triangle IP.

Adding a Patent or Patent Application to the Portfolio Manager

Adding a Patent or Patent Application to the Portfolio Manager

Continuity Data Visualization as Gantt Chart

The patent family tree visualization software displays the family tree as a Gantt chart. You can instantly identify the relationships between applications by looking at the bars. Each bar represents a separate application. The location and length of the bars show the priority date, filing date, pendency period and the issue date. It also shows the duration of the time overlap between applications.

The subject application is displayed in bold. Priority applications are identified by the type of application they represent, with PRO identifying provisional applications and CON identifying continuation applications.

Colors distinguish the different phases of a patent application, with blue showing the pendency of pending applications and green showing the patent term of issued patents. The length of the bars also shows when issued patents will expire and when pending applications would expire, if issued. This helps you plan whether and when to file continuing applications based on the patent term you could receive.

You can gather information quickly through flags and deep links that provide detail about each application or patent. 

The display is not cluttered because the Gantt chart only shows applications with direct priority claims and not indirect claims through other priority documents. For example, if you do not claim the grandparent application, it will not show up on the chart even though it provided priority for the parent application.

Gantt Chart like Patent Family Tree Visualization in the TIP Tool

Gantt Chart like Patent Family Tree Visualization in the TIP ToolTM

Traditional Family Tree Visualization

The TIP Tool™ also allows you to plot a traditional family tree. This tree includes arrows pointing from parent applications and patents to your application or patent of interest. It also includes arrows from your application or patent of interest to child applications and patents.

This visualization gives you an instant understanding of the relationships between the parents and children in the family tree. This can be useful in complex patent families with multiple parent and child patents and applications. It can also help you understand the relationships between more distantly related patents and applications such as grandparent or sibling applications.

Equally importantly, each entry in the family tree is positioned on a timeline. This timeline uses spatial positioning to help you understand both the order in which the applications were filed and the duration of the gap between filing dates.

Traditional Patent Family Tree Visualization in the TIP Tool

Traditional Patent Family Tree Visualization in the TIP ToolTM

Unraveling Complex Relationships with Patent Family Tree Visualizations

Complex technologies are often covered by complex networks of related patent applications. Using the right patent family tree visualization software can instantly give you the information you need during patent planning, preparation, and prosecution.

Some important features to consider include the flexibility and usefulness of the displays, ease of accessing detailed information, and intuitiveness of the information presented. Based on these criteria, the TIP Tool™ by Triangle IP edges out the competition. The tool’s visualizations provide detailed and useful information in a simple and intuitive visualization.

To see the TIP Tool™ patent family tree visualizations for yourself, access the free demo playground. This demo will generate a patent family tree for any document available in Public PAIR to preview what you will see from your Private PAIR account on the TIP Tool™.

How to Effortlessly Use the TIP Tool’s Free Patent Family Tree Generator

Free Patent Family Tree Generator

Free online patent family tree generators may have several shortcomings, including 

1. Limited functionality: Free online patent family tree generators may have limited

capabilities. It might be challenging to create and analyze complex patent families with them.

2. Limited coverage: Free online patent family tree generators may not cover different families; for instance, the tool might not cover the INPADOC family

3. Limited number of searches: Some free online patent family tree generators may have

limitations on the number of available searches or the number of patents to visualize in a single tree. To better understand the complexities of patent families and how to effectively navigate them, a comprehensive guide on patent families can be invaluable.

4. Non-intuitive visualizations: Some tools offer a listicle view of patent family members, making it challenging to comprehend relationships.

5. Limited ability to customize: Some tools may have limited customization options. For instance, the tool may not allow us to see the relationship between two specific family members that are a part of a vast and complex patent family tree.

If any of these pain points resonate with you, the TIP ToolTM’s free patent family tree generator is a must-explore option!

The TIP ToolTM’s free patent family tree generator offers Gantt chart style and traditional family tree visualizations with easy access to additional information that a patent attorney would need while analyzing the patent family tree. These features align well with strategic considerations in patent filing to enhance decision-making.

Before you explore the tool, let’s take a little tour of its benefits over other free alternatives.

How does the TIP ToolTM‘s Patent Family Tree Generator Make it Easy to Navigate Complex Patent Family Trees?

The TIP ToolTM‘s patent family tree generator offers two visualizations for patent family trees – Traditional and Gantt Chart. Both visualizations and added functionality on top of them make it exceptionally easy and intuitive for patent attorneys to study the patent family trees and assist their clients in making strategic decisions.

Below are some of the benefits of both visualizations and added functionality offered by the TIP ToolTM:

Traditional Patent Family Tree Visualization

  1. The TIP ToolTM allows us to see the relationship between any two specific family members. This functionality becomes extremely useful when a patent family has 10+ members.

  2. The TIP ToolTM shows the flags of the countries that Patent family members belong to, making it easier to understand the global landscape. Such visual aids are crucial in formulating an effective global patent portfolio strategy.

  3. Whenever you click on any particular application in the family tree, you can view details related to that particular family member in the sidebar. For instance, in the following snapshot, you can view the details of a patent family member from Canada.  Moreover, there are related links for the selected family member from databases like Espacenet, Global Dossier, CIPO, and Discuss. You can also download a PDF version of any family members from a link in the sidebar.


Gantt Chart Style Patent Family Tree Visualization

  1. It allows for visual comparison of the prosecution timeline using different colors. For example, gray signifies the priority period, blue represents the pending period, and green represents the applications’ post-issuance and expiry date.

  2. Hovering over any bar in the Gantt chart-style visualizations allows us to see the exact dates associated with the document.


  3. The tool helps us easily identify the hierarchy of order of filing of applications. The subject application is highlighted in bold font. The markers for parent and child applications are separated by tabbed space along a vertical line. Moreover, provisional and continuation applications are marked PRO and CON, respectively.

Besides all the benefits that we just walked you through, it’s super easy to generate the patent family tree with the TIP ToolTM. All you need to do is add the patent application number. Let’s show you how!

Generating Patent Family Trees with the TIP ToolTM’s Patent Family Tree Generator

Here is a step-by-step guide to generate the patent family tree using the TIP ToolTM

#Step 1: Register on the TIP ToolTM using this link.

#Step 2: Go to the Portfolio Manager tab from the options on the top left.

#Step 3: Click on Add Applications button on the top right, a pop-up window shall open.

#Step 4: Enter the 8-digit public patent application number for which you want to generate the patent family tree in this format 10/282,861 and click submit.

#Step 5: Click on the application of interest from the list view towards the bottom of Portfolio Manager.

#Step 6: Scroll down to the Continuity Data section to explore the Gantt chart-style visualization.

Or click the “Family Tree” button on the top right for the traditional view.

Generate Your Patent Family Tree

In the free version of the TIP ToolTM you can view all patent family members that are public and US-based. However, the TIP ToolTM allows you to see the non-US-based family members as well as the patent family members from the private PAIR.

Access the TIP ToolTM now to generate the patent family trees instantly.

While generating the patent family trees, if you face any problems, we will be more than happy to assist you. Just drop us a mail: [email protected]

How the TIP Tool Enables Enterprises to Maximize Patent Prosecution Efficiency?

Maximize Patent Prosecution Efficiency with the TIP Tool

Let’s say your quarterly target is to file patents for 35 inventions, and you have 40 invention disclosures to decide from. Which ones would you want to pick? 

Of course, the low-hanging fruits, right? The patents having greater chances of success at the patent office. 

But how can you be sure that you and other patent committee members are picking the right ones? Navigating these choices becomes more effective with efficient patent prosecution strategies that leverage data analytics for better decision-making.

If the patent committee arms itself with analytical information like predicted allowance rate, allowance time, rounds of arguments and prosecution cost, the call will be much easier and more accurate.

For instance, a TIP ToolTM user’s client had a case where they already underwent 14 rounds of arguments for one patent application. The result? A budget of ~$35,000 for patent prosecution quickly escalated into $70,000! Ouch!!

Luckily, the TIP ToolTM user, an international law firm, secured patent approval with just one more round of argument. Their client was relieved beyond belief.

Of course, they got the job done with an aggressive approach and spent time understanding and dealing with the patent examiner. 

But they didn’t show up empty-handed to those conversations. 

TIP ToolTM  prepared them with a data-informed strategy to support their client’s needs and secure patent approval. Curious about how they managed? Let’s walk you through the TIP Tool’sTM  functionality and see how it can support your patent prosecution strategy.

Analytics and Predictions that Can Help You Prosecute the Patents More Efficiently

#1 Examiner Analytics

Here’s the thing: every patent examiner is different. 

The patent office isn’t full of robots — each examiner is a human being with different opinions, experience levels, and behaviors. So, of course, those behaviors shouldn’t influence a perfectly sound patent application. But the reality is that they might, to a certain extent. 

Now, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a way of predicting the examiner’s action on your case? 

You would need to start with how they’ve dealt with past cases. What does their allowance rate look like? Have they rejected 100 out of 100 cases or only one throughout their tenure?

If you knew their history of argument rounds and allowances, you could alter your prosecution strategy for better results. Of course, you might consider researching online by Googling your examiner, but our tool provides more accurate insights. 

Let’s say your patent examiner has a history of allowing cases to pass after two rounds of arguments. You look at your case and see that you’re already on round #8. It’s likely something is going sideways with your application.

If you experience disproportionate argument rounds with a relatively easygoing examiner, you know there’s something wrong with your application.

What if your patent examiner averages a whopping ten argument rounds per case? What if their allowance rate is 0%?

Unfortunately, you came across some bad luck with this examiner. It’s likely you’ll never receive approval. Meaning? It might not be worth your time to pursue that particular patent application, and you can better utilise your budget on a new one. 

So, examiner stats help us save time and pinpoint efforts with different applications. It becomes even more vital if you’re dealing with several applications simultaneously. 

Also check out: Five Ways to Deal with the Challenges of IP Budget Allocation

#2 Patent Counsel Analytics

Patent counsel analytics are just as valuable to an innovation manager as examiner analytics. How? Well, two reasons. You could discover extreme prowess on behalf of an attorney, skills that could combat the tricky nature of a strict patent examiner.

Let’s say you have a patent case that’s been spinning through endless rounds of arguments. A quick look at the examiner and patent counsel analytics. Lo and behold, the examiner has a record of ten argument rounds on average for each case. However, patent counsel analytics illuminate the perfect attorney for the job. This attorney has a history of resolving patent prosecution within just two rounds of arguments. 

Indeed, this is a fantastic candidate to take on your firm’s patent cases and address the difficult examiner.

#3 Art Unit Analytics

According to the patent office, an art unit is the technology domain (classes) under which your patent application falls. Some examples of different art units include:

  • Telecommunications
  • Data processing
  • Food or edible material
  • Mineral oils
  • Error detection
  • Electrical computers
  • Field chemistry
  • Bleaching and dyeing

Art unit analytics gives you an idea of how long patents in your category take for allowance. Any time you pull up a matter in the tool, the executive summary will tell you a short history of your art unit’s statistics.

For example, you might question whether investing more time and budget into a field chemistry application is worth investing more time and budget dollars. The patent examiner has an average history of allowance rate, but for some reason, you’re stuck in many rounds of arguments. 

Art unit analytics might show a longer average allowance time and a higher number of argument rounds in your application’s domain.

Now, let’s talk numbers.

#4 Cost Estimations

What if you could predict how much money a patent case will cost you down the line? 

Patent prosecution is pricey, and it’s hard to keep track of all the different fees. First, of course, you have the patent counsel fee. But then there are filing fees, government fees, maintenance fees, etc. Effective management of patent prosecution costs is vital to make informed decisions and optimize the allocation of resources.

Moreover, every additional round of argument may cost ~$5,000.

How can you keep track of all that?

You can’t. Either your attorney or a tool can fetch you this information.

Moreover, decision-making based on costs is much more manageable if you break up end-to-end cost with the remaining cost and the next cost you incur on a particular application.

Say you notice a case needs $20,000 in remaining costs. After all the time you’ve put into the application, you might wonder: 

Why did we even file this patent? 

It’s possible the industry went in another direction and contradicted your predictions. So while you kept throwing money at the case, little progress manifested, and you realized you could have better spent the budget elsewhere.

The TIP ToolTM is excellent at arming you with information that can help you pivot your strategy and redirect that money to a new application, which might get better traction.

How You Can Easily Fetch this Information Using the TIP ToolTM

Ready to infuse more data insights into your patent prosecution strategy? We’ll show you how with the TIP ToolTM.

Portfolio Manager

The Portfolio Manager is your one-stop shop for updates on every patent application you’ve filed. First, it displays a visualization of the number of patents that are:

  • Pending
  • Accepted
  • Abandoned
  • Expired

It also displays quick stats about your patent history, showing the overall allowance rate, allowance time, and the number of argument rounds for all your patent applications. 

But the accompanying two-by-two matrix tells an even deeper story. 

It lists every case as a dot, with a position indicating the number of rounds it’s undergone compared with the average number of rounds for a particular examiner. If the case falls above the diagonal line, the case has some concerns. For example, why does it have more arguments than average? Maybe the idea is no good or just isn’t getting any traction. Either way, the matrix gives you a quick idea of whether you should prune (abandon) a case and save the budget for something else.

Patent Portfolio Triangle IP

Still, this is just a quick look at the cases needing attention. If you want to dive deeper, you can use the TIP Tool’sTM Case Health feature.

Case Health

Case Health speaks to the state of your patent case. You can use individual case analytics to gain deeper insights into how your patent prosecution is going. 

You’ll see the counsel, examiner, and art unit analytics we mentioned earlier, along with patentability predictions and law firm stats. 

This collection of insights gives you a holistic look at your overall case health. From there, you can assess which cases need your attention. Additionally, you can use patent analytics to obtain educated estimates on the chance of approval for each case.

Case Analytics Triangle IP

Notice a case in poor health? You might use insights to take a new approach. But if the cost estimations are too high? It might be less costly to abandon it altogether.

End-to-End Patent Cost Predictions

We mentioned the fees associated with the average patent case — filing, legal, maintenance, and more. The TIP ToolTM helps you access the bottom line or assessment of all these fees by preparing the following figures: 

  • Remaining cost
  • Predicted cost
  • Next cost
  • Latest argument round

Why We Set Out to Build The TIP Tool – The Best Idea and Patent Management Tool for Medium-Sized Enterprises

Patent Management Tool for Enterprises - TIP Tool

Intellectual property (IP) is often a company’s most valuable asset to protect future success. It’s the key to gaining a competitive edge, increasing your revenue stream, encouraging investment, and reducing infringement risks. The role of tailored patent strategies for different company sizes becomes essential in leveraging these assets for maximum benefit.

A patent management program that protects, enforces and manages these assets is critical to your company’s health. Like any valuable asset, increased control and visibility into your patent portfolio is crucial to continued success.

A comprehensive patent management system can centralize information and track and record assets in a streamlined manner with visibility to all stakeholders. A collaborative approach to your patent portfolio building keeps the process streamlined and aligned with the strategic goals of your enterprise.

But managing these assets requires the proper software tools.

As a patent attorney with more than two decades of experience in IP strategic planning, I specialize in arming my clients with the insights and tools they need to successfully navigate the patent landscape while efficiently building their patent portfolio.

After years in development while building client patent portfolios, my process for protecting intellectual capital is available for all — small and large — enterprises.

As founder of Triangle IP®, I’m proud to offer a cutting-edge cloud-based solution that simplifies the patent management process and helps companies capture enterprise-wide innovation and manage each patent throughout its life cycle using deep learning and data analytics.

Triangle IP’s TIP Tool™ democratizes patent portfolio management with ease-of-use functionality and real-world analytic insights into costs and patentability. All stakeholders have access appropriate to their role in the enterprise with real-time updates and regular updates from the patent office.

The TIP Tool rescues the user from an insanely complex information environment (that makes them dependent on outside counsel) to one where they have all the information they need to make informed and thoughtful decisions. Simplified analytics make strategic decisions simple.

With the TIP Tool, anyone can strategically manage a patent portfolio, just like we have become accustomed to for any other business process.

Gaps in Existing Idea and Patent Management Software Solutions

You’ll want to watch out for these gaps in existing patent management solutions:

  • Inability to engage innovators in the patent mining process
  • No real way to collaborate in real-time 
  • Inability to provide actionable analytics to guide your strategy
  • Inability to provide a holistic view of idea capture and patent pipelines
  • Lack of cost-effective and simple solutions

Inability To Engage Innovators in the Patent Mining Process

Too often, the process of filling out an Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) is so complex that inventors are intimidated and discouraged from completing the task, or they fill it out inaccurately or incompletely. To address this, understanding ways to encourage more invention disclosures is crucial for capturing valuable ideas. Unfortunately, this results in potentially patentable ideas going uncaptured and lost to the public domain.

Absence of Simultaneous Editing Functionality

The collaboration process is critical to the development of patentable ideas. Unfortunately, IDFs and spreadsheets, sometimes used for patent management, lack collaboration capability with role-based access control for securing your innovation.

Also read: 7 Reasons Why Managing your Intellectual Property Assets on Excel Spreadsheet is a Bad Idea

Inability To Predict the Likelihood of Getting a Patent

Many factors may affect the allowance of your patent application, like the examiner on the case and statistical information about other similar applications. 

Too many available management solutions can’t show the general health of an IP application. They don’t show how your application is faring against other applications in the same domain as things progress throughout the process.

You cannot make informed patenting decisions without an indication of the likelihood of getting a patent or predicted cost.

Inability To Provide a Holistic View of Idea and Patent Pipelines

Very few patent management solutions provide an independent glimpse of the patent activity at your organization. Usually, a view like this requires the assistance of a patent counsel and the expense that goes with it.

The holistic view of the TIP Tool provides information like the patentability of submitted ideas, the enterprise value, and the general health of your patent portfolio.

Without the TIP Tool, it can take many hours to gather reports manually in an actionable format for holistic decision-making.

Lack of Cost Effectiveness

Generic solutions like spreadsheets, databases and CRM tools can be manually configured to serve your patent management. Solutions require extensive customization without advanced features like automatic synching with the patent office database or insight into the likelihood of getting a patent for your idea.

Existing patent management tools are too costly for all but the largest enterprises.  Add to that the expense of personnel to assist with the setup and management of the software.

Existing tools and platforms are impractical for businesses with the largest patent portfolios.

Also read: Salesforce and Jira Alternative for IP Management

Best Patent Management Software for SMEs

Simple to use yet comprehensive, the TIP Tool has a drag-and-drop interface while delivering all the features small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to manage every phase of their patent life cycle.

Short, Simple and Intuitive IDF

The TIP tool makes it easy for innovators to participate in the patent mining process in the following ways:

  • Provides a short and straightforward Invention Disclosure Form (IDF)
  • Notifies innovators as their idea progresses through various stages in the IP life cycle

The TIP Tool also provides an offline version of the IDF, in Word or Excel, for offline use. 

And it’s possible to customize the IDF so you can gather information specific to your organization and modify existing fields as needed.

Also check: Invention Disclosure Form Word/Excel Template [Downloadable]

Seamless Real-Time Collaboration

The TIP Tool allows simultaneous collaboration with teammates to refine ideas. It also provides for managers to select the most promising IDFs in a vetting stage for patenting.

The following features allow members to collaborate as they would face-to-face:

  • Team members can simultaneously edit any part of the idea text in an IDF
  • They can add comments on published IDFs for others to see
  • The TIP Tool tracks of every change made to an idea and keeps a record of the user who made the change

Case Health Powered By Patent Data

The TIP Tool provides patent analytics so you can make informed patent decisions. 

With the TIP Tool, you can:

  • Know the likelihood of getting a patent on your idea and what it will cost
  • Keep your file patent application in sync with patent office status updates
  • Organize ideas using tags for different criteria

All this data can be used to guide strategic decisions for your application.

Dashboards To Keep Tabs on Your Innovation Pipeline

The TIP tool’s dashboard provides a holistic view of your idea pipeline, the filed USPTO applications and existing patents. Every user receives a dashboard with status information relevant to their role.

These dashboards can help you get a pulse on the quality of the ideas submitted, probable roadblocks and your inventor activity. 

Cost Effective

The TIP Tool is an easy-to-use comprehensive patent management solution that requires no customization.

With the TIP Tool, you save money on developers since you don’t need expensive modifications to a homegrown solution. Furthermore, since it’s intuitive and easy to use, you save money on management and training — anyone can use it. 

You save money on counsel since the TIP Tool provides many of the analytic insights you would otherwise have to pay for. And you save money by making decisions based on analytics rather than just guessing costs and likelihood of sucess.

Additionally, the TIP Tool offers a highly cost-effective pricing structure that makes this state-of-the-art tool accessible to almost anyone. You can check pricing details here.

Parting Thoughts

Unfortunately, for many companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, the necessary tools to efficiently patent their ideas are unavailable.

The TIP Tool provides organization, collaboration and insights that help everyone protect their inventions without complexity, expensive customizations or high legal costs. 

Inventors, innovation managers and any stakeholder in the patent procurement process can easily use this best-in-class patent manager, which provides: 

  • collaborative innovation capture
  • a pipeline to organize and track progress
  • progress tracking after filing with world-class analytics and insights

The TIP Tool provides strategic protection of your innovations with a solution that requires no special training or expertise with the most cost-effective pricing.

Try it out here.

How To Reduce Dependence on Outside IP Counsel for Patent-Related Matters?

How To Reduce Dependence on Outside IP Counsel for Patent-Related Matters

The process of filing for and obtaining a patent is lengthy and expensive. USPTO application fees, legal fees, and drawing costs can drain a budget and prevent promising inventions from getting to market. To navigate these complexities, it’s vital to understand the evaluation of ideas for their patentability which can help streamline the patent process and reduce unnecessary expenditures.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to mitigate the priciest portion of this process — legal fees.

Although attorney fees can’t be completely avoided, there’s a way to decrease legal expenses and, at the same time, gain a tool for making smarter patent-related decisions.

Triangle IP’s TIP Tool™ is an innovative, interactive, web-based portal that keeps you in sync with the USPTO and provides answers your patent attorney would bill you for.

With the TIP Tool, you no longer have to pay counsel for USPTO updates, status reports, and insights.

The TIP Tool uses powerful data science to give you the information you need to track your case and make intelligent decisions without paying your attorney for often limited or inadequate answers.

“When you want to know how things are going with your case or what’s likely to happen, your attorney charges you for answers that can be difficult to understand or are often based on a gut feeling,” says Thomas Franklin, co-founder of Triangle IP. “With the TIP Tool, you get the facts, simply and clearly.”

The TIP Tool uses data analytics, so you know the information you’re getting is science-based. You can use it confidently to guide decisions about how to move forward with your case.

Reducing dependence on outside IP counsel

Five Critical Pieces of IP Information the TIP Tool Delivers

With the TIP Tool, you no longer need to pay for potentially complicated or speculative answers to your patent-related questions. The TIP Tool makes it easy to find answers with no legal fees. 

These five key pieces of information help you make sound decisions based on science rather than guesswork.

1. Status of a Patent or Patent Application
The TIP Tool provides an easy way to capture, track and manage your patent pipeline from invention disclosures to patents.

You can watch your ideas progress through idea capture, internal vetting, patent drafting, and filing. Along the way, you can instantly notify team members and stakeholders of any changes or updates.

Because the TIP Tool is in sync with the USPTO, it also provides automatic status updates for your published and unpublished applications.

With the TIP Tool, you no longer need to depend on outside counsel for status updates. Instead, you’re immediately notified of any actions the USPTO wants you to take as well as any changes in the application process. This aligns well with the concept of strategic patent filing which ensures efficient management and progression of patent applications.

The TIP Tool saves you time; you no longer have to call your attorney for updates and wait for a response. And it saves you money; all USPTO status changes are immediately available so you can make timely and informed decisions.

With the TIP Tool, you can keep tabs on your case, determine how your application is progressing compared to others in the same domain and decide which patent application might need your immediate attention.

Automatic USPTO updates with the TIP Tool
Automatic USPTO updates with the TIP Tool

2. Likelihood of Getting a Patent
The likelihood of getting a patent majorly depends on the allowance rate of the examiner assigned to a case besides other factors. An attorney can speculate based on professional experience, but the TIP Tool provides examiner analytics to help you pursue patent applications efficiently.

“When you want to know the likelihood of getting a patent, you don’t want to hear your counsel tell you, ‘Wow, I’m feeling really good about it.’ You want data, not hunches,” says Franklin. “The TIP Tool tells you your examiner’s allowance rate so you can determine your chances and whether to expect additional rounds with this particular examiner. This is good information to have. It allows you to make informed decisions.”

The more you know how the examiner handling your case might respond to it, the better you’ll be able to negotiate the patent.

The TIP Tool puts you in the driver’s seat when choosing the right actions to pursue your case.

Detailed Examiner Analytics Triangle IP
Detailed Examiner Analytics

3. Case Analytics
The TIP Tool allows you to extend your knowledge base about your case so you can make more informed decisions without the need for counsel.

The TIP Tool provides the precise intel you need for each case, such as:

  • How far along it is in the process
  • How the patent counsel handling your case has prosecuted other patent applications
  • How are other patent applications performing in the same art unit
  • The anticipated costs for end-to-end prosecution
  • How much resistance the case is meeting at the patent office
  • A family tree so you can see what other cases proceeded it or maybe follow it
  • What’s going on overseas
  • A timeline of interactions with the patent office 

And, having an idea about cost estimates for filing utility patents can be immensely beneficial for budget planning.

The TIP Tool provides thorough updates on your case, so you don’t need to pay your attorney for answers.

Patent Counsel and Examiner Analytics Triangle IP
Patent Counsel and Examiner Analytics

4.  Cost Estimations

The TIP Tool gives you the information you need to predict patent costs and create a realistic budget. 

Among other things, the TIP Tool helps you determine the chances of success. Based on the intelligence it gathers by studying millions of applications, the TIP Tool provides the data you need to decide how much of an investment you’re willing to make to pursue a case.

When your decisions are based on data science, you can create realistic budgets that rely on patent data, competitive activity and USPTO behavior,” says Franklin. 

With the TIP Tool, you can determine if the invention stands a good chance and how much the patent will cost you over the years if you decide to move forward.

In fact, the TIP Tool also gives a complete breakdown of costs for provisional as well as non-provisional patents and patent applications

Must Read: Five Ways to Deal with the Challenges of IP Budget Allocation

Cost Estimation Triangle IP
Cost Estimation

5. Holistic View of the Patent Portfolio

Instead of relying on your attorney for answers, you can count on the TIP Tool to give you actionable intelligence about your cases.

In the Portfolio Manager tab, you can find all the data you need to make informed decisions about your case. Among other things, you can compare the allowance rate of the examiner on your case to the number of rounds the case has gone through.

“For instance, if you have a case in which the examiner on average allows the case after two rounds, but your case has already gone seven rounds, then it’s a good sign there might be something wrong with the case,” says Franklin. “The TIP Tool alerts you to this kind of issue so you can make an informed decision about whether to continue pursuing the case or abandon it and save the budget for something else.”

From specifics about the progress of your case to details about related national and international applications, the TIP Tool provides accessible and easy-to-understand data that gives you a holistic view of all the pieces you need to make thoughtful, educated, and strategic decisions about your

patent process.

Read also How to Reduce Outside Legal Services Fees.

Parting Thoughts

The TIP Tool by Triangle IP is dedicated to democratizing the patent acquisition process. 

This easy-to-use IP patent management software solution delivers a transparent and autonomous system for tracking and managing the progress of your innovative ideas.

Synced to the USPTO, the TIP Tool also provides the data you need to track case progress and make educated strategic decisions without having to pay outside counsel.

Ready for a Test Drive?

Try out the TIP Tool by exploring a pre-populated sample patent portfolio here.

IPFolio Competitors and Alternatives: Choosing the Best Patent Management Software for Medium-Sized Enterprises

IPFolio Competitors and Alternatives

IPFolio is a part of Clarivate’s broad product line. Coupled with two other tools from Clarivate – FoundationIP and Innography – IPFolio offers a complete IP lifecycle management package.

IPFolio is designed explicitly for corporate teams that want greater control over their IP operations but with minimum effort. Within this realm, comprehending the diverse types of innovation is crucial for IP teams to align their strategies effectively.

Despite being a great choice, some innovation managers look for alternatives to IPFolio for their enterprise’s unique needs.

Like them, your quest for a suitable IPFolio alternative ends at this post.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a fair idea about five promising alternatives to IPFolio.

Let’s dive in!

Five Promising IPFolio Alternatives

Here are five alternatives to IPFolio:

Triangle IP’s TIP ToolTM

Triangle IP’s TIPTM Tool puts you in control of your patent mining process. The TIP ToolTM simplifies patent management by offering an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to move and track ideas as they progress through the IP lifecycle. For organizations aiming to maintain efficiency, understanding ways to control patent costs without losing quality is vital.

The four stages of the lifecycle are Idea Capture, Internal Vetting, Patent Drafting, and Filed.

The short and simple idea disclosure form minimizes the friction from innovators engaging in the idea capture process. The seamless real-time collaboration facilitates thorough vetting of ideas. Automatic syncing with the USPTO on status updates of patent applications and patents reduces your legal bills.

Moreover, you can make more informed IP decisions based on the analytical insights that the TIP ToolTM provides, like

  • Patentability score and case health,
  • End-to-end cost predictions,
  • A holistic view of idea and patent pipelines

Top Features

Let’s take a look at the top five features to understand why Triangle IP’s TIP ToolTM is an excellent IPFolio alternative:

Intuitive Idea Submission Form

Triangle IP’s TIP ToolTM offers a short, simple, intuitive, and engaging invention disclosure form (IDF). This feature enables easy capture of ideas. Moreover, it encourages inventors to submit their inventions for patent protection to establish a competitive IP advantage.

Customizable Idea Capture Form

The TIP ToolTM users can customize the invention disclosure form (IDF) per the enterprise’s needs. This feature offers a high degree of personalization and the ability to incorporate an enterprise’s internal nomenclature.

Tags to Ease Filtering

The TIP ToolTM allows for segregating and filtering ideas easily. Users can utilize specific keywords to tag patentable ideas around a particular technology, product category, or business function.

Brainstorm Ideas With Stakeholders On A Real-Time Basis

Users can replicate face-to-face discussions using the TIP ToolTM. It allows effective collaboration amongst all collaborators – managers, inventors, technical reviewers, and patent counsel – to brainstorm and refine ideas.

Effective Collaboration to Refine the Ideas

The TIP ToolTM offers an editing functionality like Google Docs, allowing two or more users to edit idea summaries simultaneously. Moreover, team members can also add comments to the idea and its summary.

Access the Change Log

The TIP ToolTM maintains version history to track and record any changes made to a disclosed invention. This feature is beneficial for visualizing the change path and rolling back specific changes.

End-to-End Tracking from Ideas to Patents and Beyond

The TIP ToolTM offers complete patent pipeline visibility. It helps establish end-to-end tracking from ideas to patents and beyond. View the entire IP lifecycle, from

  • Capturing the idea
  • Evaluating and vetting the patentable idea
  • Drafting the patent application
  • Filed the patent application
  • Managing the patent portfolio

The TIP ToolTM offers visibility on all of these aspects.

Receive Status Updates on Ideas

The TIP ToolTM lets all stakeholders stay updated on an idea’s status and the IP stage in which it resides.

Inventors can receive updates on comments from an idea’s reviewer. Additionally, they receive updates when their idea is filed for patenting.

Ease of Thorough Vetting

The TIP ToolTM allows collaborators to quickly exchange thoughts over an idea or a patent draft by offering timely notifications of new changes. This ability makes it possible to vet ideas thoroughly. Ensuring high-quality invention disclosures is a critical aspect of this collaborative process.

Case Analytics

The TIP ToolTM allows users to see the general ‘health’ of the patent application. Users can understand how other patent applications have fared in a particular domain.

Moreover, enterprises can view the patent counsel’s performance in handling their patent application.

Manage Patent Budget Wisely With End-to-End Cost Predictions

The TIP ToolTM provides complete information on how much a patent will cost during its lifetime. Your enterprise can make budget allocations based on cost estimates, including drafting fees, office action response fees, and more. Enterprises can quickly narrow down ideas worth pursuing based on time and cost constraints.

Discover the Likelihood of Getting a Patent

The TIP ToolTM offers a patentability score to predict the likelihood of getting a patent based on deep learning analytics.

Detailed Examiner Analytics

The TIP ToolTM provides detailed analytics on your idea’s assigned examiner. This information assists your patent attorney in strategizing the patent prosecution.

Stay In-Sync With USPTO

The TIP ToolTM drastically reduces costs paid to attorneys for receiving communications from USPTO. The TIP ToolTM provides immediate updates regarding application status using USPTO PAIR (Public and Private both). It also provides notifications on any PTO rejections.

Dashboards for a Holistic View

With the TIP ToolTM’s informative dashboards, innovation managers can obtain a holistic view of the idea pipeline at a glance.

Additionally, innovation managers can get a pulse of the quality of the ideas submitted, the probable roadblocks, and each inventor’s activity.

Key Differentiator

The TIP ToolTM is designed explicitly for innovation managers from non-IP backgrounds to easily get and use patent portfolio-related information to manage ideas and patent pipelines effectively. 

User’s Perspective

A user on Capterra describes the TIP ToolTM as intuitive for capturing and collaborating over ideas. A glimpse of the pros they’ve listed down

  • Easy and intuitive inventor form.
  • Ease of collaboration results in the thorough vetting of the ideas.
  • Scoring the ideas helps in prioritizing ideas to be pursued for patenting.
  • Drag and drop ideas from one stage to another.

Who is This For?

A medium-sized enterprise that needs a systematic patent mining process to manage its patent portfolio strategically.


There is a free tier with up to 10 users, storage of 5 GB, up to 10 MB file size, and a single portfolio.

The premium tier costs $50/month and $495/year. Features include:

  • Up to 100 users
  • Storage 20 GB
  • Up to 50 MB file size
  • Three Portfolios
  • Case Analytics
  • Real-Time Collaboration
  • Private PAIR Access

Our premium plans have the right features for a medium-sized enterprise. There’s also custom pricing for bespoke features.


You can explore the TIP ToolTM by visiting Triangle IP’s website.


The TIP ToolTM offers a demo playground with pre-populated data to easily explore the tool’s functionalities. Sign up for an interactive product demo to experience the power of TIP ToolTM’s features for yourself!

ideaPoint by Anaqua

ideaPoint is an end-to-end IP management tool offered by Anaqua. ideaPoint design helps enterprises capitalize on innovations of different originations—internal or external.

ideaPoint offers total management of the innovation lifecycle. Enterprises can strategically explore, assess, and seize various innovation prospects. In addition, the tool allows them to secure strategic partnerships and manage crucial requests, projects, and alliances.

Top Features

Here are ideaPoint’s key features:

Collect Ideas

To streamline the process of collecting ideas, ideaPoint provides a detailed idea submission form. The form contains fields such as

  • Brief description
  • Type of innovation
  • Need/problem addressed
  • Stakeholders
Effective Collaboration

ideaPoint has collaborative features that enable people to participate in the idea-refining process. Engage people by

  • Inviting them to collaborate on an idea.
  • Utilizing the message board for ad-hoc communications.
  • Assigning evaluation of ideas to suitable people.

ideaPoint provides an innovation board to gamify the innovation process. Users can introduce challenges and define problem areas and specific areas of interest.

Receive Status Reports

ideaPoint also provides users with reports and insights for their ideas. This reporting feature helps users to review, rank, and ultimately decide the path they want to take for an idea.

Key Differentiator and Benefits

  • An intuitive idea submission form that contains all necessary fields.
  • Message board for ad-hoc communications leading to smooth workflows without delays.
  • Invite innovators to work together on ideas.
  • Users can utilize Anaqua’s other services to manage partner collaborations resulting from the innovation process.

User’s Perspective

A review on G2 says ideaPoint is a simple-to-use software with many features. The user highlighted that the software integrates seamlessly with other spreadsheet-based systems and has excellent reporting functions. 

Who is This For?

Small businesses and enterprises specifically engaged in clinical trial data sharing and medical affairs programs.


Users need to submit a request for ideaPoint’s pricing information.


You can explore ideaPoint by visiting Anaqua’s website.


ideaPoint does not have a free demo video, but users can request a demo.

Accept Mission

Accept Mission is an end-to-end innovation management software enabling use cases such as innovation strategy, innovation program, innovation training, software implementation, and innovation campaign. Accept Mission’s integrated platform can get you through all stages of your innovation process.

Let’s look at its key features to understand Accept Mission better.

Key features

Manage Ideas Comprehensively

With Accept Mission, users can collect, manage, score, and select ideas. Accept Mission offers idea boxes to gather ideas on any topic. A script feature called Ideation lets you ask questions about ideas.

Score and Select Best Ideas

To help enterprises choose the best ideas, Accept Mission has some scoring features. These are

  • Upvoting with likes and comments.
  • Custom scoring criteria and weighted values.
  • Algorithms that indicate exciting ideas.
Run Innovation Campaigns

Using Accept Mission, enterprises can run innovation campaigns to collect ideas from internal and external stakeholders. Further, Accept Mission allows tracking campaigns in the innovation dashboard called “Innovation Land.”

Gamify Innovation

At Accept Mission, the innovation process has been made fun with various gamification elements. These are

  • Leaderboards showing the top 5 idea boxes, ideations, and boards.
  • Undercover mode allows people to like, comment, and add ideas without revealing their true identity.
  • Hackathon digitalization features that include selecting the best innovations by a jury.
Engage with People

Accept Mission provides a board feature that invites partners and employees to share and work on ideas. Users can follow, score, upvote, and share ideas. Tags and mentions offer notifications of updates to ideas.

Track Project Portfolio Progress

A separate section with all project information gives users a bird’s eye view of the portfolio. They can filter projects by status and department. Progress percentages track each project’s progress.

Utilize Reports and Dashboards

The innovation dashboard summarizes every innovation success on the platform. The idea funnels, top 5 projects, idea boxes, ideations, boards, and more offer a clear picture of all the progress. Using specific keywords provides the ability to get innovation trend reports.

Integrate Applications

Accept Mission is one of the only tools in this list that lets you integrate with essential business applications. You can integrate with the following:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Business Intelligence integration with tools like Tableau and Power BI
  • APIs
  • Custom Integrations

Key Differentiator and Benefits

  • Undercover feature that lets people engage without feeling judged.
  • Top 5 ideas, ideations, and board information that helps in making better decisions.
  • Features like votes, likes, comments, and intelligent algorithm suggestions for idea scoring.
  • Trends reports based on various keywords.
  • Percentages show innovation progress for easy tracking.

User’s Perspective

A user on Capterra described Accept Mission as an “excellent solution to improve innovation in organization.”  Here are the highlights:

  • It is easy to use, has a great design, and has many options.
  • The customer care is friendly, responsive, and knowledgeable.
  • The ability to convert an idea into a project and work on it is great.

Who is This For?

Medium to large enterprises that are actively engaged in the innovation process and looking to improve it.


Accept Mission has a forever free plan that allows up to 25 users. Up to 2 campaigns and funnels can be activated with this plan. 

The paid plans are as follows:

  • Basic at €60/month: 5 campaigns and funnels with up to 15 users.
  • Pro at €98/month: Unlimited campaigns and funnels with up to 15 users.

Enterprise brands can get custom pricing with unlimited campaigns, funnels, and users.


You can explore further by visiting Accept Mission’s website.


Accept Mission does not have a free demo video, but users can request a demo.


AppColl is a user-friendly, automated cloud-based patent & trademark management system to increase productivity through collaboration. AppColl’s invention manager makes it easy to start, track, manage and report your patent management process.

Top Features

Let’s take a look at its key features to understand better AppColl’s invention manager:

Customizable and Comprehensive Disclosure Form

AppColl has a customizable idea disclosure that can include up to 48 questions. It allows setting text limits and making fields optional or required. The tool can also set up metadata, like keywords, products, etc., within the form. Moreover, inventors can drag and drop essential documents.

Filter Information Flexibly

Your IP team can filter information based on the data collected in the idea disclosure form—including the custom fields.

Generate and Customize Reports Limitlessly

AppColl allows generating of unlimited, customizable bar graphs and pie charts based on the ideas collected. To alter the appearance of the dashboard’s reporting view, users can drag, drop, and resize charts.

Trigger Custom Notifications

During the invention approval workflow, users can send email triggers to alert people about updates or required actions. AppColl also allows sending customized emails to people internal and external to your organization.

Integrate with Enterprise Software 

AppColl’s invention manager can be integrated with other business software. Regular HR data feeds can be automatically processed to ensure that contact and organizational information in AppColl is constantly current against your internal HR system. You can frequently send custom data feeds of AppColl data to your analysis tools.

Key Differentiator and Benefits

  • You can set up single sign-on login so that users who have already logged into your internal network can access AppColl without having to input their login information again.
  • AppColl allows tracking disclosures using unique tags based on product categories, phrases, or other custom criteria.
  • Customizable reports that can be exported to spreadsheets and distributed via email or secure file transfer protocols. 
  • AppColl supports automating inventor awards and other complex award systems.

User’s Perspective

A user on G2 described AppColl as the “best IPM system.” Here’s what they had to say:

  • Simple and easy to use and learn.
  • Flexible features that allow us to provide useful information to both clients and internal resources.
  • Automation aspects save a lot of time.

Who is This For?

Patent firms and multinational corporate IP teams.


USD 350 per month for the invention manager, check their pricing page for further details.


You can explore further by visiting AppColl’s website.


You can contact AppColl to schedule a demo.Decipher

Decipher offers functionality for managing IP portfolios and disclosures of inventions. Together, these two products create an excellent innovation management system. This functionality allows you to increase innovation output, streamline collaboration, get a complete view of your assets and manage and control costs.

You have the following features to collect ideas:

  • Automated workflow of invention disclosure, review, and decision-making.
  • Collaboration features like automated alerts, permission controls, and KPIs.
  • Customizable disclosure form for improved disclosure quality.

Top Features

Take a look at Decipher’s key features to better understand its IP portfolio management:

Establish IP Goals

You can also establish IP goals, track them and receive insights into the progress toward achieving them.

  • Track innovation activity and IP assets to set and modify IP goals.
  • Receive real-time insights with the help of built-in reports and analysis.
Set Innovation Challenges

To incorporate business strategy with IP processes, you can set innovation goals and track your progress toward them.

Receive Insights

You or your team can cross-reference your IP assets with associated products, expenses, business units, and people. For example, insights about whether to renew a patent or not can be seen by looking at usage and performance data.

Control Costs

Decipher enables cost-efficient decision-making with automated and powerful reporting. 

  • You can avoid wasting resources by looking at IP and asset performance reports. 
  • Automation and workflow features cut down on IP admin costs.
Receive Billing Information

All cost and billing information is available in Decipher patent management software. You can:

  • Make a comprehensive report detailing all expenditures and actions taken by the enterprise in connection with pending patent cases.
  • Make individual reports segmented by patent asset, legal counsel, tasks carried out, timekeeper, and other factors.
  • Compare and identify the most effective outside companies for required legal services.

Key Differentiator and Benefits

  • Automation and workflow processes help perform innovations within a budget.
  • IP insights that help in making decisions regarding the renewal of patents and innovatively staying ahead of the curve.
  • Assist you in tracking your IP assets and innovation activities to determine whether you are keeping up with business needs.

Who Is This For?

Mostly Fortune 500 companies.


Pricing information is not provided on the website, but you can contact team Decipher.


You can explore further by visiting Decipher.


Decipher provides a quick demo and the option to request a 30-day free trial.

Quick Comparison of all 5 IPFolio Alternatives

ParameterIPFolio TIP ToolTMideaPoint AnaquaAccept MissionAppCollDecipher
Customizable Idea Capture FormNoYesNoNoYesNo
Real-Time collaborationYesYes. Comes with asynchronous editing and change logYes. Offers invite and assign featuresYes. Allows using tags and mentionsYes. Offers using custom trigger emailsYes. Users can send automated alerts and permission controls
Establish Innovation ChallengesNoNoYesNoNoNo
Case Analytics and Cost EstimationYesYes. Comes with lifetime cost estimates and success rate estimatesStatus reports can be viewed, but no cost estimatesNo cost estimates are availableNo cost estimates are availableNo cost estimates are available
Key DifferentiatorCustom reportsEasy to use by people from non-IP backgroundsGamification elementsComprehensive idea scoringAutomated inventor bonus programsHighly customizable for specific enterprise needs
Suitable Company ProfileCorporate IP teamsInnovation-driven medium-sized enterprisesBusinesses engaged in clinical trial data sharing and medical affairs programsMedium to large enterprises that are actively engaged in the innovation process and are looking to improve itPatent firms and multinational corporate IP teams Mostly Fortune 500 companies
PricingAvailable on requestStarts at $0Available on requestStarts at $0Available on requestAvailable on request

Parting Thoughts

Effective patent mining necessitates systematic processes and made-for-purpose tools. The selection process, however, isn’t that simple. A suitable software solution must:

  • Offers an invention disclosure form that minimizes the friction from innovators in idea submission
  • Offers intuitive drag-and-drop functionality to progress ideas through the end-to-end IP life cycle 
  • Allows stakeholders to seamlessly collaborate to refine an idea by facilitating simultaneous editing of the idea summary, adding comments to the idea summary, and more
  • Provides actionable insights powered by deep learning of patent data for a more efficient patent prosecution
  • Reduces dependability on outside counsel for fetching prosecution and portfolio-related information thereby reducing legal bills

About Us

The TIP ToolTM by Triangle IP is an intuitive drag-and-drop tool that helps you manage the end-to-end IP lifecycle from ideas to patents. The tool underwent creation with the vision of democratization of patents. Usually, the patent process is not transparent, and many enterprises do not have enterprise-wide innovation capture systems and processes. The TIP ToolTM is here to change that. With the TIP ToolTM, anyone in the enterprise can submit and track the progress of their innovative ideas. The TIP ToolTM also helps you manage your patent portfolios with deep learning to guide your patent strategy efficiently.

Disclaimer: The information in this article/review is sourced from the internet and may not be entirely accurate or up-to-date. We recommend visiting the respective software websites for the most current and reliable information. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Triangle IP. We are not liable for any consequences that may arise from relying on the information provided in this article/review.